O2 has revealed that they’re expecting a 4G and 5G “surge in mobile data [broadband] traffic along the UK’s main motorways this bank holiday,” with 77% of survey respondents saying they’ll rely on mobile devices to keep passengers entertained. Over a third of cars on the roads will also have over 3 mobile devices at any time.

According to the RAC, an estimated 18 million trips were taken by car during the bank holiday weekend last August 2020. Meanwhile O2’s survey, which was conducted by Portland Polling (few details about their methodology were included in the release), found that Brits are planning to spend more than 10 hours (average) on motorways thus summer – due in part to the COVID-19 situation.

The “most popular” data-demanding activities that O2 expects to support will be “solo drivers, groups of friends and families” streaming films en route to holiday hotspots (25%), streaming music (62%), using GPS apps (30%), going on social media (30%) and sending emails (19%). Personally, we rather hope that solo drivers aren’t doing most of that while actually driving!

O2 added that they’d seen record levels of data over the last 12 month – with nearly 90% more data carried this year compared to the pre-pandemic average 2 years ago (a good chunk of this will be from natural growth). O2 has also seen new spikes at 3pm each day as young TikTok users log on after school. Finally, two thirds of Brits think a strong signal and data speeds make summer road trips better.

Omar Calvo, Director of Radio Network Engineering at O2, said:

“As a champion for coverage and reliability, O2 is committed to providing our customers with reliable connectivity across the UK, wherever they are. That’s why we were delighted to be recognised by GWS for our work to improve the 4G signal on major UK motorways to maintain coverage.

We are investing more than ever before in our network, and appreciate customers will rely on mobile devices to stay entertained – and keep the peace – on long road trips.”

We should point out that other operators have also been investing in upgrades to their infrastructure (mast sites etc.) along the major UK road networks, with EE now claiming to cover over 94% of all roads in Great Britain (here). Modern cars also benefit from the extra data connectivity as it can help to reflect live traffic jams and other events.