CORRECTION*: A year ago, the amount of calls grew massively by 117% – DNA’s data reveals how the coronavirus has changed how Finns spend time on mobile and online


In March last year, it started to become clear that peoples’ daily lives were about to change radically. The volume of traditional calls increased significantly in the early day of the pandemic and began to rise after years of decline. A particularly large spike was seen when the Government first declared a state of emergency in the country on 16 March 2020. Data use has also increased enormously, and there is no going back to the way things were, predicts Jarno Haikonen, ‎Vice President, Broadband and TV Business at DNA.

Image: DNA
Image: DNA

For years, it has been a topic of discussion how people increasingly opt for different messaging apps instead of speaking over the phone. However, data gathered by DNA shows that the coronavirus pandemic turned Finns to again prefer traditional phone calls. A particularly large spike in calls was seen on 16 March 2020 when the Government declared a state of emergency in Finland. On that day, the number of calls increased by as much as 117% from normal levels.

“The declaration of a state of emergency was clearly a moment that made people want to call their family and friends and speak over the phone. Humans are social by nature and at the time, no-one knew what was happening. People felt it was important to ask their loved ones if everything was all right and talk about how the world would change,” says Haikonen, analysing the data.

At the start of the pandemic, the daily peak hour of data use quickly shifted from the afternoon to the morning between 10 and 11. During the summer, there was some variation, but in the autumn, the rush hour of weekdays moved back to the afternoon.

As the year progressed, the spike in call traffic fell but the numbers of calls remained well above previous years. Haikonen tells that call traffic is again on the rise. 

“Even with Zoom and Teams in remote work, people still lack physical contacts. No doubt this adds to the desire to speak over the phone. This is also supported by the fact that the average length of calls has increased from early 2020 by as much as a minute. Seeing others has been replaced with listening. The increased volume and length of traditional calls indicates that people still want to speak to one another without video, too. I have personally also found that a traditional call is sometimes a much easier method of communication than a video call.” 

Data usage grew explosively – TV viewership also trending upwards

The amount of transferred data has been growing for years over both mobile and wired connections. According to DNA’s data, the pandemic has greatly accelerated this trend. For example, mobile data use volumes in DNA’s network spiked by more than 30% as soon as the pandemic restrictions began in March 2020. In October–December, subscription-specific monthly data use was around 38.8 GB/month, up 35% from the previous year. The data is used most in the evenings, between about 8 pm and 10 pm.

“Considering that traditional TV is being replaced by streaming and remote working and online meetings are here to stay, it is clear that data volumes will only continue to increase. Both of these trends have been on the horizon for years, and the pandemic has simply accelerated the pace of change,” says Haikonen.

Despite this, even the viewership of traditional TV via DNA TV increased by up to 45% between January 2020 and January 2021. 

Increasing data consumption present a challenge for operators. Haikonen is confident that Finnish data networks can handle the load  but urges everyone to think about their household’s broadband needs.

“Operators invest large sums in building networks and introducing new technologies, such as 5G, in order to keep up with increasing data volumes. In my experience, more and more households have come to see the need for faster and better broadband access, and many have noticed that their Internet is not in as great a shape as thought. I recommend anyone struggling with a sluggish Internet to get their connection speed updated and their home network sorted. In times like these, reliable Internet access makes daily life much easier.”

*) The release sent today at 8:30 a.m. has been corrected. The previous version erroneously, that the daily peak hour of data use, i.e., the most active data usage time, is now between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., when previously it focused on the afternoon. This was a mistake, the daily peak hours mentioned were for call volumes. The busiest hour of data usage still falls between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Further information for the media:

Jarno Haikonen, VP, Broadband and TV Business, DNA Plc, tel. +358 44 044 2058, jarno.haikonen@dna.fi

DNA Corporate Communications, tel. +358 (0)44 044 8000, communications@dna.fi


Image: DNA
Image: DNA
Jarno Haikonen, VP, Broadband and TV Business, DNA Plc
Jarno Haikonen, VP, Broadband and TV Business, DNA Plc


About DNA Oyj

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DNA is one of the leading telecommunications companies in Finland. We want to make our customers' daily lives less complicated. We offer connections, services and devices for homes and workplaces, contributing to the digitalisation of society. DNA's customers are continuously among the world mobile data usage leaders. DNA has about 3.6 million subscriptions in its fixed and mobile communications networks. The company has been awarded numerous times as an excellent employer and family-friendly workplace. In 2020, our total revenue was EUR 934 million and we employ about 1,600 people around Finland. DNA is a part of Telenor Group, a leading telecommunications company across the Nordics. More information: www.dna.fi, Twitter @DNA_fi, Facebook @DNA.fi and LinkedIn @DNA-Oyj.

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