It's Almost Christmas. Is Anyone Still on the Internet?

For a short period over the Christmas holiday, people use the Internet less than usual. For most of the week, though, they spend more time online than usual
Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg

Offices everywhere are emptying as people head home for a few days of light dining and constructive political conversations with relatives. But is the Internet as much of a ghost town as your workplace over the holiday season? Nope. Internet usage is likely to be higher than usual for the rest of the week, according to Sandvine, a firm that tracks Internet traffic. The only exception: a few hours on Christmas Eve, when people have no choice but to put away devices and talk to one another.

The graphic below shows data from 2013, when Christmas Eve fell on a Tuesday. The data don't include traffic on mobile networks, but do include people using mobile devices connected to Wi-Fi. 

sandvine-xmas-graf

People tended to start using the Internet slightly later over the course of the week, probably because they weren't at work. For the same reason, the rate of daytime Internet use was unusually high. Starting the day after Christmas, Internet use in 2013 surged, probably because people were trying out devices they had just received. 

Leaving the Internet for a few hours during dinner on major holidays—and then returning with a vengeance—seems to be a universal trait, according to Dan Deeth, a spokesman for Sandvine. "These are global trends," he says. "The trend you see in the U.S. on Christmas, you see similar things in Muslim countries around Ramadan." 

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