NBN sets new download record, all thanks to Call of Duty & Fortnite

NBN record network use 2023 Fortnite Call of Duty
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Australians set a new internet traffic record for the NBN network in November, largely off the back of two major video game releases.

Data from NBN Co, the company behind much of the country’s internet infrastructure, pointed to 3 November as being the network’s biggest-ever traffic day. That’s the same day the wildly popular Fortnite OG update launched, in addition to Call of Duty Modern Warfare III’s early access period.

At its peak, NBN traffic reached a record 26.76 terabits per second (Tbps), beating the previous record of 24.98 Tbps in June. This massive figure has been described as the equivalent of over half a million simultaneous Fortnite downloads at 50 Mbps.

In a significant display of the pastime’s widespread popularity, gamers drove the NBN network’s top five data consumption days in 2023. Despite this, streaming remains the number one use of the network, with browsing, social media, and gaming following closely behind.

New NBN record in numbers

NBN Co also dropped some interesting factoids about how Australians use the national network. On average, Aussies downloaded 423GB each month, up 50 per cent from three years ago. Granted, that’s the average, not median, figure, so it’d be impacted by outliers. Regardless, it’s a big number, indicative of how much of our lives have moved online.

In October, City of Playford residents, encompassing South Australian suburbs like Elizabeth, downloaded an average of 613GB a month, the most of any local government area. NBN Co likened the number to downloading The Lion King (the original 1994 animated version) 124 times.

The number of households breaking the terabyte barrier in a month also increased this year. Over 830,000 homes and businesses downloaded at least 1,000GB in October 2023, a 14 per cent increase year-on-year. Unsurprisingly, school holidays were the busiest network times, with Sunday the day Australians used NBN internet the most. If you noticed congested internet at night, that’s probably because 9 pm – 10 pm routinely saw the most use.

Although not all Australians use the NBN network, a significant portion of the population does. Approximately 8.6 million homes and businesses use NBN, accounting for more than 80 per cent of the country’s download traffic, according to Dr Robert Joyce, Head of Customer Strategy and Innovation at NBN.

“Our 2023 Top Network Insights show our customers are using more data than ever,” Dr Joyce said. “New network usage records were set and broken three times in the last 12 months.”

Calls to shop around

Reiterating recent calls from the ACCC to compare NBN plans following the recent wholesale pricing change, Dr Joyce encouraged users to check if their current plan is still the best fit.

“With data usage more than tripling in the past seven years, and with average households now having around 21 connected devices, it’s a timely reminder to check your home broadband plan is still meeting what you want from your broadband service,” Dr Joyce said.

“On our fastest residential plan, downloading a Call of Duty 130GB game update can take just 18 minutes compared to six hours on a 50 Mbps plan.”

Not all internet service providers are equal, however, which is why it’s important to compare the cheapest NBN plans to avoid paying for more than you need. If gaming’s a big part of your life, you’ll want a plan capable of handling large downloads, as NBN Co’s data shows.

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