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COVID-19: Portuguese people make more quarantined voice calls but also use the internet more

The data was shared by ANACOM, based on information from the three communications operators, indicating that it is estimated that in the week from 03/30/2020 to 05/04/2020, voice and data traffic has increased by around 3% and 6% , respectively, in relation to the previous week. But compared to the same period last year, the changes are more significant.

"Voice traffic was 37% higher than that recorded in the period prior to the start of the exceptional and temporary measures associated with COVID-19, while data traffic was 44% higher than that recorded in that period," says the same source.

The first data shared by MEO, NOS and Vodafone already showed growth above 80% in some services.

The communications regulator indicates that changes in the patterns of use of the electronic communications services identified in the previous week are maintained. In the case of voice traffic, there was a significant growth in fixed voice traffic (+ 96%), which contrasts with the reduction seen in previous years, and a more moderate growth in mobile voice (25%). As for data traffic, fixed broadband traffic grew at a higher rate (45%), compared to mobile data traffic (26%).

Even so, and despite the increase in the relative weight of the fixed voice, mobile voice communications continue to be about five times higher than that of the fixed telephone. In the case of data traffic, fixed data traffic is about 20 times higher than mobile data traffic.

Variation compared to the pre-COVID19 period

Week Mobile voice Fixed voice Voice Mobile data Fixed data Dice
03/22/2020 41% 94% 47% 24% 54% 52%
3/29/2020 25% 96% 34% 20% 36% 35%
4/5/2020 25% 96% 37% 26% 45% 44%

Change from previous week

Week Mobile voice Fixed voice Voice Mobile data Fixed data Dice
03/22/2020 41% 94% 47% 24% 54% 52%
3/29/2020 -11% 1% -9% -3% -11% -11%
4/5/2020 0% 0% 3% 5% 6% 6%

(*) ANACOM estimate with the most recent data reported at 05.04.2020 by the 3 largest operators

The current situation of confinement that extends to many countries in Europe has raised concerns about the resilience of the networks. In the first week of the extended quarantine, the European Commission made some notices and contacts with operators and OTTs, such as Netflix, and even admitted that operators could "turn off the tap" to some type of traffic, escaping the internet neutrality rule. In the meantime, several social media and video service providers have been reducing the quality of streaming to allow reserving bandwidth without major impacts.

The use of videoconferencing services, but also video streaming, has grown exponentially and that is why the Government has also defined a set of exceptional measures for telecommunications during the State of Emergency in which we live.

It is recalled that in 2019 calls on the fixed network suffered the biggest drop since 2015, with less than 722 million minutes of conversation on the fixed phone. On the contrary, the use of mobile internet continued to grow by a 36.8% increase.