Phone/internet usage and roaming habits this summer

The pandemic has changed phone usage habits and has influenced where and how people communicate. Based on mobile internet usage data, Pest county, the Lake Balaton and counties close to national borders were the most popular domestic holiday destinations of Hungarians this summer. In terms of foreign trips, Germany, Austria and Croatia topped the list of destinations. Telenor customers used 59 million GB of data this summer, which is 35% more than the year before. The length of voice calls increased by 10%, as revealed by Telenor’s report comparing summer traffic data in 2020 vs 2019.

A preference for domestic destinations, more internet and longer calls 

Calling habits also changed during the summer months of the pandemic compared to the summer of 2019.* In July this year, 10% more SMS messages were sent and more calls were made, presumably to compensate the lack of face-to-face contact. Calls were also longer than the year before, especially in August when the average length of calls was up by 10% to 15%. Nevertheless, most people communicated online as confirmed by a 35% increase in data usage over the summer months of 2019. 

How much is 59 million GB?

This data volume corresponds to 2,242 years of YouTube usage in HD quality, 80,821 years of web browsing or 92,945 years of music consumption on Spotify. To make the figure even more tangible: this data volume would allow you to use Facebook for thirty times the number of years that passed since the Ice Age (11,700 years). During the time Google Maps consumes this amount of data, you could walk around the Earth 108,847 times.

Total mobile internet usage has been rising from year to year. This summer, however, had a growth rate exceeding that of previous years. One explanation can be a larger number of people staying at home or selecting a domestic holiday destination. The Hipernet data traffic of Budapest and its surroundings was much higher in August 2020 than in the same month the year before (with August being the most popular month for summer vacations). In addition to Pest county, people travelled to many different parts of Hungary probably to visit their family or get recharged somewhere in the countryside. In the southern part of the country, Bács-Kiskun, Somogy and Csongrád counties were the most popular. In the North East, most people visited Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén and Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg counties, while in the West Győr-Moson-Sopron county and in the East Hajdú-Bihar county were the most frequented destinations in terms of mobile usage. Other popular destinations included Veszprém and Fejér counties near the Lake Balaton. People in the North East made more calls, while those in North and South Hungary made longer calls. The largest number of SMS messages were sent by people living in Budapest and Győr. 

Preference for foreign destinations close to Hungary

The lockdown made heavy inroads into roaming traffic this spring. With sanctions eased in the summer, traffic edged its way up but foreign destinations seem to have been visited only by the most daring travellers this year. In Croatia, an all-time seasonal data roaming champion, roaming traffic was down to 50% of last year’s level. With this figure, Croatia dropped from the third place of Telenor’s roaming top list to the sixth place. There was a slight change in the top 5 EU countries of the list: in August 2019, they included Germany, Austria, Croatia, Italy and Romania. This year, four members of the list were unchanged and France replaced Croatia at the fifth place. Among the top 15, Holland was up 5 ranks, while the total roaming data volume of the surveyed period was virtually unchanged. Most of this roaming traffic is likely to be generated by Hungarians living and working in these countries. Interestingly, Bulgaria came at the bottom of the top 15 list last year (at the 14th place), but it was not on the list this year. The reason may be that Bulgaria was considered a high-risk country included in the red zone for Hungarian travellers. Telenor’s roaming top list gives a good indication of popular tourist and roaming destinations for Hungarians in and outside Europe. Of non-EU countries, the top 5 countries included the United States, Serbia, Switzerland, Russia and the Ukraine in August last year. This year’s list comprised of the same destinations albeit in a different order: Switzerland and the Ukraine were up, while Serbia, the United States and Russia were down on the list. 

Foreign tourists in Hungary: Germans used more while US travellers used less roaming services than last year

In Hungary, the highest roaming traffic was generated by tourists from the UK, Romania, Poland, Germany and Austria both in 2019 and 2020. In response to the COVID pandemic, however, the mobile internet usage of visitors was down. Although Germans and Austrians generated a higher data traffic this year than in the year before (by 13% and 2%, respectively), Polish and Romanian visitors had a lower data traffic (by 35% and 25%, respectively). Last year, roaming traffic by tourists from Denmark and Spain declined and this year it further dropped to 25% and 33% of its previous level, respectively. Last year, the US was high on the list (6th place), but in 2020 it wasn’t even included in the TOP15 (21st place). **

* in June, July and August 2020
**in July and August 2019 and 2020