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Nearly a quarter (24%) of U.S. broadband subscribers are likely to upgrade service within six months, according to new research from Parks Associates. Researchers attributed the finding, based on research conducted in the third quarter of 2020, to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The percentage of U.S. broadband subscribers who said they were likely to upgrade service within six months was substantially higher in the third quarter of 2020 than in the previous quarter, when 18% of respondents said they expected to upgrade service.

More than half of U.S. broadband subscribers said their broadband usage has increased since the start of the pandemic.

Parks Associates Research Director Steve Nason sees consumer plans to upgrade broadband service as evidence that increased usage will continue after the COVID crisis.

“Broadband upgrade plans indicate many households see some COVID-19-related changes as permanent,” said Nason in a press release about the research.

Parks Associates: Likelihood of Making Changes to Broadband Service in the Next 6 Months

Among these potentially permanent changes: 45% of U.S. broadband households now subscribe to three or more OTT streaming services. While this market has traditionally been dominated by Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, Nason noted that many consumers plan to add challenger services such as Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max and Peacock as “a permanent part of their OTT service portfolio.”

Also driving the need for greater broadband bandwidth: many traditional pay-TV subscribers are migrating to online pay-TV offerings or standalone OTT services.

“Traditional providers, who still comprise the majority of the pay-TV market, have to continually seek ways to integrate online video services into their offerings either through homegrown solutions or external partnerships,” Nason advised.

Although the Parks Associates announcement doesn’t discuss how much of a traffic increase broadband subscribers are seeing, recent research from OpenVault found that per-subscriber average data usage was 40% higher in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to the fourth quarter of 2019.

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