tv_appsAverage household bandwidth requirements will increase 31 percent annually over the next five years as Internet users consume more high-bandwidth content and connect more often and for longer periods of time using a greater variety of devices, from personal computers and tablets to smartphones, digital TVs and home appliances, according to a new study from network equipment vendor Ciena.

“Today’s households are taxing metro residential backhaul networks like never before,” Ciena highlights in a press release summarizing a market research report Ciena sponsored entitled, “Forecast of Residential Fixed Broadband and Subscription Video Requirements.”

Average household bandwidth requirements will rise from 2.9 Mbps in 2014 to 7.3 Mbps in 2018, according to the report, which was produced by ACG Research.

“The explosion of OTT/unicast service as well as the surging demand for video content is pushing service providers to reassess their existing infrastructure and take steps to enhance their metro network,” ACG Principal Analyst Michael Kennedy was quoted as saying. “End-user expectation of a more ‘on-demand’ experience is a dramatic change for networks and requires the underlying infrastructure to evolve in order to give users the experience they expect.”

Video Dominates
Key findings of the report include:

  • OTT unicast video traffic is predicted to be 4.6 times greater than traditional multicast traffic by 2018, according to the study. The shift from viewing TV over multichannel video subscription services to Internet video is a fundamental driver and accounts for the majority of the bandwidth requirement for all device types;
  • Usage of Internet video, which includes smart TVs, is expected to grow from 12% of overall peak average bandwidth in 2014 to 25% in 2018, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 56%. The use of Internet video represents the largest contributor to household bandwidth consumption by 2018;
  • Other factors driving increasing bandwidth requirements include the trend toward multiple Internet-enabled devices in a household consuming content simultaneously; the use of Internet streaming consoles, WiFi- enabled tablets and smartphones, which have the highest device concurrency; the growing adoption of large screen TVs and increased penetration of HDTV; and the emergence of ultra-high definition 4K TV;
  • The research found that use of 4K streaming video services—which consume three to four times more bandwidth than HDTV—will grow from 2% in 2014 to 12% in 2018. 4K infrastructure is currently deployed in many studios, as is 4K projection equipment in tens of thousands of cinemas worldwide. This provides the basis for rapid consumer uptake of 4K TV sets once consumer electronics companies can reduce the cost. Consequently, 4K TV is likely to become a mainstream offering within five years.

According to Ciena, service providers can manage burgeoning residential bandwidth demand “by offloading streaming video traffic to a high-performance packet-optical network by leveraging newly released technologies such as the hybrid OTN/packet central switching capability built into Ciena’s own 6500 Packet-Optical Platform or the dense 10GE handling capabilities of its 8700 Packetwave Platform.” Ciena says doing so would reduce network complexity and reduce total cost of ownership by as much as 50 percent.