The internet became a lifeline to the outside world during 2020, connecting South Africa’s remote workforce to their jobs, children to teachers and educational resources, and families to virtual entertainment.

According to Vuma’s 2020 End-User Customer Satisfaction Research Study, which assessed the fibre internet usage of over 27,000 respondents during the lockdown, work accounted for 96% of households’ frequent fibre internet usage.

Social media (96%) and streaming TV services (91%) were also popular in homes during this period, with teens, pre-teens and younger kids being the highest consumers of content on these platforms.

The internet was also a family lifeline for 86% of pensioners, or “silver surfers” or pensioners, who braved the new world of personal voice and video calling to keep in touch with loved ones they were prohibited from meeting in person.

A further 82% used it to stream videos on platforms like YouTube – however, just 40% were ready to do their shopping online, despite being encouraged to stay at home.

Silver surfers were also the least likely to listen to stream music online – just 38% of them did so, while this type of service enjoyed more than double the popularity among all other age groups.

93% of teenagers used the internet for studying and learning, although 98% of the same age group said that they were using it to watch videos. Just short of two-thirds of teens and pre-teens used the internet for online gaming.

“Fibre to the home has revolutionised the way people access entertainment, education resources, and even how they communicate with loved ones,” says Lianne Williams, Head of Marketing at Vuma. “The technology proved to be even more revolutionary during the pandemic, with countless households using it to stay connected to people and things they love, work remotely, and access information and updates about COVID-19.”

“Our survey revealed that working from home and streaming TV services were the primary reasons for households upgrading to fibre, while online gaming and  listening to podcastswere less common among users,” adds Williams.

Vuma’s survey also showed the correlation between internet activities and connection speed. Just under 80% of households with 1Gbps lines frequently engaged in online gaming, while only 38% of households with lines under 10Mbps did the same.

“Vuma’s survey shows that fibre internet is still an essential tool in South African homes during the pandemic, connecting families throughout the country to an abundance of information and knowledge from the safety of their homes. Fibre also creates an opportunity for South Africans to reach for the future, despite the current limitations necessitated by COVID 19. We’re proud to be able to realise our vision of creating a world where even more people are connected,” says Williams.

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