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Posted on January 8th, 2009 by Barry Collins

Sunday evening – the new web rush hour

Few will be surprised by the new Ofcom research that reveals actual broadband speeds are less than half of those advertised by the ISPs

But the one big shock to come out of the detailed research is that the peak rush hour, when average web speeds slow to a crawl, is in fact Sunday between 5pm and 6pm, as we can see from the graph below. 

Web peak hours

Most people are well aware that broadband access slows on weekday evenings, as people come home from work and connections start suffering as a result of contention. But you would have thought that Sundays, when most people generally have all day off to surf, would have shown a much more even distribution. Perhaps it’s the endless teatime repeats of Last of the Summer Wine that are driving people online?

The research throws up other interesting daytime trends:

“On weekdays, there is a sharp decline in speeds between 3pm and 4pm (school finishing time) followed by a levelling-off between 6pm and 7pm, which can perhaps be attributed to people leaving their computers for dinner (a similar resurgence in speed is seen on Sunday evening at the same time). During weekday evenings, speeds are slowest between 9pm and 10pm, suggesting that this is when most people are using the internet.

“Saturday evenings exhibit their low point around 6pm and speeds then increase in for the rest of the evening. Again, this can probably be attributed to people spending their Saturday evenings away from their computers.”

So what is the best time to venture online for maximum download speeds? Between 4am and 7am. I think I can live with the extra five minutes it takes to download Gavin and Stacey.

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10 Responses to “ Sunday evening – the new web rush hour ”

  1. William Bryson Says:
    January 8th, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    I wonder how this will impact online advertisers.

    Will they soon all be outbidding each other for an adspot on sundays between 5 – 6:00 PM? :)

     
  2. Marshall Eubanks Says:
    January 8th, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    I could believe this.

    The AmericaFree.TV traffic almost always peaks for the week Sunday evening. But, that is because we are a video service and most people watch from home (6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, local time, is the general peak audience for any time zone). By contrast, the minimum usage for the week is 6:00 AM Monday morning, for each time zone. And, during holiday periods), the day of the Holiday also tends to be an audience peak. The recent Christmas / New Years periods saw unusual peaks on Christmas, the day after and New Years and the day after – people were presumably taking 4 day week-ends.

    I would assume that that is true for most video services, so, if video dominates bandwidth usage, then it would be reasonable to assume that Internet bandwidth usage does peak on Sunday.

     
  3. McColley.net » Blog Archive » Sunday Evening is the Web’s Rush Hour [Bandwidth] Says:
    January 9th, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    [...] admin Research firm Ofcom finds that the worst time for traffic congestion (in the U.K., at least) is 5-6pm on Sundays. Also weak bandwidth times: Right after school lets out, and from 9-10pm on weekdays. Maybe obvious [...]

     
  4. Sunday Evening is the Web’s Rush Hour [Bandwidth] | CHARGED's Digital Lifestyle at Work or Play Says:
    January 9th, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    [...] firm Ofcom finds that the worst time for traffic congestion (in the U.K., at least) is 5-6pm on Sundays. Also weak bandwidth times: Right after school lets out, and from 9-10pm on weekdays. Maybe obvious [...]

     
  5. software update Sunday Evening is the Web’s Rush Hour [Bandwidth] | 82123 Says:
    January 9th, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    [...] firm Ofcom finds that the worst time for traffic congestion (in the U.K., at least) is 5-6pm on Sundays. Also weak bandwidth times: Right after school lets out, and from 9-10pm on weekdays. Maybe obvious [...]

     
  6. mike@problogservice.com Says:
    January 10th, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    Bloggers should take note of this and make sure that new posts are timed to go online Sunday. I’ve used that strategy for quite some time.

     
  7. Falaque Says:
    January 12th, 2009 at 6:41 am

    hmmm,
    Nice research. :)

     
  8. Dean Says:
    January 12th, 2009 at 10:43 am

    As a gamer this is old news to me. Gaming servers are notoriously slower on Sundays due to net congestion and this has been the case for quite a while now. Has it really taken this long to confirm it? I’m in the wrong job.

    With the recession worries I would expect usage to get even heavier as people opt for the cheaper online entertainment.

     
  9. John Says:
    January 12th, 2009 at 12:37 pm

    My small site would seem to parallel the article but On surprising thing I have noted is a one hour drop at midnight. I see a 50% or more reduction for the single hour between 12 and 1am then it picks up again to 90% of the pre-midnight volume then tampers off until 7am.

     
  10. Narf Says:
    January 12th, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    One other possibility for the stats – site & system maintenance? My ISP/cable/phone provider has a habit of bringing down huge sections of a major metropolitan area on Sunday-Monday usually starting shortly after midnight. These are unforewarned outages, usually denied by customer service & tech support folks who have seemingly little knowledge of the events.

     

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