Global VPN use exploded in March

With millions of people working from home, the coronavirus outbreak has seen global VPN demand surge. Demand for commercial virtual private networks in the U.S. jumped by 41% between March 13 and March 23, according to research from Top10VPN.com, a VPN research and testing company in the U.K.

VPNs were already a growth industry before the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent shutdown of workplaces. The global VPN market was forecast to grow 12% year-on-year and be worth $70 billion by 2026, according to a Global Market Insights 2020 survey. North America was forecast to remain the leader in VPN usage, with around 30% market share.

Top10VPN.com found global VPN demand increased 41% over the second half of March and remains 22% higher than pre-pandemic levels, with 75 countries seeing significant increases in VPN demand since COVID-19 social restrictions and stay-at-home orders.

The largest VPN demand increases were in unlikely places: Egypt (224%), Slovenia (169%), and Chile (149%). The largest sustained increases (two weeks or more) were in Egypt (154%), Peru (119%), and South Africa (105%).

The growth is hardly a surprise, but some of the reasons cited are surprising.

Top10VPN’s Global VPN Usage Report 2020 found that 51% of people in the U.S. and the U.K. use a VPN to protect their privacy on public Wi-Fi networks. Another 44% of respondents said anonymous browsing was the main reason for using the VPN, followed by secure communication, cited by 37% of VPN users. In addition, 20% of American and British respondents use VPNs to access better entertainment content or restricted download, stream, and torrent sites.

I can relate. I am a big aficionado of Japanese music, but many of the major labels in Japan restrict YouTube viewership by non-Japanese visitors. The fix for me has been the Opera browser, with its native VPN.

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