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Vodafone: Prime Minister's COVID-19 lockdown announcement sees massive spike in traffic

Internet use is continuing to spike as New Zealand heads towards the end of the COVID-19 level four lockdown. 

Tony Baird, wholesale & infrastructure director at Vodafone NZ, says this week started with a massive spike in internet traffic at 4pm on Monday, when Kiwis tuned into the hear Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's announcement of whether the country would move out of lockdown and into alert level 3.

Baird says that while the Prime Minister's daily 1pm press conference regularly draws crowds, the 4pm announcement on Monday 20 April hit another high.

On top of the usual +20% increased mobile data and VodafoneTV baseline (vs pre-lockdown levels), Vodafone saw an 82% increase in VodafoneTV traffic, compared to previous Mondays at 4pm for the month of April. It witnessed a 17% increase in mobile data traffic, compared to other Mondays at 4pm during lockdown, and a 10% increase in Facebook traffic at 4pm, compared to 4pm traffic for the previous week.

"While the past four weeks have been challenging in many ways, we are pleased to be able to keep New Zealanders connected. I have been proud at how well the Vodafone phone and internet networks have held up, and as an essential service that's needed now more than ever before it has all been worth it, despite the increased costs and strains it has placed on our operations," Baird says.

"To ensure our networks run smoothly during the day when most people are online for working, learning or playing, we instead have been undertaking maintenance and upgrade works overnight. This has meant many late nights for our engineering teams," he says.

"While level 3 will herald a slight easing of restrictions, we are aware that all New Zealand businesses are adjusting to a digitally focused world longer term," says Baird. 

"While we don't yet know all the specific impacts, we appreciate the financial impacts across industries will be significant and we know we will never regret taking big early steps to protect the health of our people, customers and our business, as well as our country more broadly."

Vodafone says on average, voice calls have been up 60%, while mobile and fixed data usage has risen 20%. Rural broadband (RBI) has been up 25% (on-peak) and +40% (off-peak). International roaming has decreased 99%.

Meanwhile, Vodafone has installed a 4G and 5G capable moveable cell site (a cell site on wheels, or COW) at Middlemore Hospital. This helped boost coverage in the area, which is essential for both the hospital staff as well as patients and their whanau.

"As we head towards the final days of level 4 lockdown, and the Anzac long weekend commemorating the heroes and heroines of our past, it's a great time to pick up the phone or use a video calling app to connect with friends and family," says Baird. "Now, more than ever, we hope you stay connected digitally."