The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact broadband usage, according to OpenVault Broadband Insights (OVBI). The report found that during COVID-19 upstream internet traffic rose 5.3% between the ends of the first and second quarters.

This, the firm said, was probably due to videoconferencing, education and other uses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Upstream consumption is up 56% year over year for the second quarter of 2020.

Overall second-quarter internet traffic is up compared to the year-ago quarter, but down compared to the first quarter of 2020, according to OpenVault.

The report found a desire for faster tiers. The OVBI found that almost 5% of subscribers have gigabit or faster connections, a 133% year over year increase – and an increase of 75% during the past six months. Sixty-one percent of subscribers have connections of 100 Mbps or faster, an increase of 27% over the past year.

The changes were driven by consumer need to use broadband across multiple devices simultaneously. Some operators offered complimentary speed upgrades and relaxed data ceilings to meet this demand.

“Yes, overall usage eased in the second quarter, but nothing is forever in this pandemic,” OpenVault CEO Mark Trudeau said in a press release about COVID-19 upstream internet traffic and other trends. “The persistent pressure on upstream plant and the migration of subscribers to faster tiers, not to mention the unknowns of distance learning, remote businesses and emerging COVID hotspots – these are all flashing signals that higher consumption levels lie ahead.”

Key findings of the OVBI:

  • The total average usage declined from 402 GB to 380 GB in 2Q20, but remains well above pre-pandemic levels and is up nearly 36% from the average of 280 GB at the end of the second quarter of 2019.
  • The 8.7% of subscribers consuming 1 TB represented a 13% decline from the first to the second quarter of 2020 but a 112% increase from 4.1% in the second quarter of 2019.
  • With usage quotas relaxed during the pandemic, consumption by subscribers on usage-based billing (UBB) plans increased nearly 42% year-over-year, from 262.9 GB in 2Q19 to 372.8 GB in 2Q20. Average usage in Europe was 221.6 GB, down 10% from the 247.7 GB of 1Q20 but up 30% from the 170.2 GB in 2Q19.

Through its OVBI report,  OpenVault has been tracking the impact of the pandemic. In May, the firm found that average bandwidth consumption at the end of the first quarter was 402.5 GB, an increase of 47% compared to the first quarter 2019’s average, which was 273.5 GB.

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3 thoughts on “OpenVault: COVID-19 is Driving Dramatic Upstream Internet Traffic Growth

  1. This press release has some pretty suspect math in it. They conflate monthly bandwidth numbers, and confuse up/downstream. The graph doesn't match the headline at all.

    1. The graph illustrates overall data usage, not upstream or downstream usage. It represents data outlined in the first bullet point of the key findings, not the headline of the overall post.

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