Data center switch

The percentage of subscribers with faster internet speeds is growing and they are consuming much more data, according to the OpenVault Broadband Insights (OVBI) report for the second quarter of 2021.

More specifically, the OVBI reports that during the second quarter, the percentage of subscribers with 1 Gbps or faster service reached 10.5% compared with 4.8% provisioned for that speed a year earlier. On the other side of the spectrum, those with speeds of 100 Mbps or less fell from 39.9% to 20.1% during the same timeframe.

OpenVault says that its analysis – based on data from millions of consumers – suggests that normal patterns are returning as the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic continues. However, these patterns are occurring with higher usage levels – a trend that OpenVault noted was underway before the pandemic, but also was accelerated by it. OpenVault suggests that consumption increases are planting the seeds for continued adoption of faster speed tiers.

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The OVBI also found that year-over-year growth of median usage across both usage-based billing (UBB) and flat-rate billing (FRB) subscribers jumped 22.7%, from 223.3 GB in 2Q20 to 274.0 GB in the second quarter of this year. The rate of increase was more than 64% greater than the growth in average usage during the same period, indicating that increased consumption is occurring across the subscriber base as a whole, rather than being concentrated among a few customers. 

OVBI report bandwidth usage chart

Other key takeaways from the OVBI report include

  • Monthly weighted average usage – including UBB and FRB — was 433.5 GB. This maintained a growth rate of more than 14% year-over-year that was evident in the first quarter of this year. It maintained a quarter-to-quarter decline of 6%, which is consistent with historic patterns.
  • The percentage of subscribers using 500 GB or more increased 2.7% — from 28.2% in the second quarter of 2020 to 31.9% in the second quarter of this year. Usage at the bottom end of the scale – 0-100 GB – fell 4.7 %, from 34.2% to 29.5%.
  • With 10.5% of subscribers provisioned for 1 Gbps service and 10.8% consuming 1 terabyte or more of data, the second quarter of this year was the first time that both metrics simultaneously topped 10%.
  • Power users (greater than 1 TB of usage per month) and extreme powers users (greater than 2 TB of usage per month) grew nearly 24% and 50%, respectively, from 2Q20 to 2Q21. The increase was moderated in systems with UBB plans. Extreme power users grew at a rate that was 31% less in UBB systems in the quarter. FRB systems had more than 20% more extreme power users on their networks by the end of the quarter.

“With both median usage growth exceeding average usage growth and upstream usage growth exceeding downstream usage growth, the impact on the network is far reaching and not driven by just a few subscribers or just by applications like streaming alone,” OVBI report authors note . “Network operators will continue to be challenged to manage their networks as they strive to balance higher usage with better customer experiences.”

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