A small group of extreme power users is causing a continuous climb in upstream usage of broadband cable networks, OpenVault reported in its 1Q24 Broadband Insights Report released this week.

Extreme power users — those consuming 5 TB or more per month — are using an average of nearly 1 TB of upstream bandwidth each month. This is significant because it impacts “the most capacity-constrained part of the cable broadband network,” the report pointed out.

“Ensuring optimal downstream quality remains important, but operators will do well to focus significant attention on the upstream plant,” the broadband power user report stated. “Increased traffic — especially at the hands of a growing group of extreme power users of 5 TB or more — shows no sign of abating. At current usage rates, each new extreme power user adds almost 1 TB of upstream traffic on a single node.”

“Extreme power users” are one of three types of power users that OpenVault studies, along with “super power users” and plain old “power users”.

Among power users, defined as those who consume 1 TB or more of data per month, data usage was up 15% year-over-year. Among super power users who consume 2 TB or more per month, usage increased by 30%. Among extreme power users of 5 TB or more per month, usage rose 57%.

Broadband power users’ insatiable appetite for more data undoubtedly is contributing to increased demand for higher-speed services. Among all broadband users, over a third (34%) subscribed to gigabit speeds in the first quarter of 2024, up from 10% in the first quarter of 2021.

OVBI 1Q24 Provisioned Broadband Speed Tier Trends
Source: OVBI 1Q24

Upstream Growth

Among all users, consumption of downstream data dropped 6% in the first quarter of 2024 from the previous quarter. This follows customary seasonal patterns. Upstream usage, however, rose slightly during the same quarter, according to the OVBI report.

The monthly average data usage was 605.8 GB. This is an 8.1% increase compared with one year ago (1Q23), but a 5.5% decrease compared with the previous quarter (4Q23).

Power users consume six times more broadband data than average users, primarily driven by gaming, according to the Q3 2023 OVBI report.

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