Research: Covid-19 broadband usage “reaching a plateau”

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Broadband consumption is showing indications of reaching a plateau in markets that have been ‘quarantined’ against the coronavirus pandemic, according to data analysed by OpenVault, a provider of technology solutions and industry analytics for broadband operators.

Following three weeks of double-digit percentage growth, the total downstream data usage in those markets with shelter-at-home policies declined 5.8 per cent during the week of March 30th – April 3rd when compared to the previous week. While total upstream usage continued to grow during the March 30th – April 3rd timeframe, the increase over the previous week was only 2.3 per cent. Overall data usage growth in quarantined markets is 33.1 per cent when measured against OpenVault’s January 2020 usage benchmarks.

Among other daily usage trends:

  • Average daily downstream consumption during the 9am-to-5pm business hours in the last week was 6.35 GB, 42.46 per cent higher than the January level of 4.46 GB.
  • Average daily business hour upstream usage rose 82.5 per cetn from January through April 3rd, from 0.215 GB to 0.392 GB.
  • While the highest data usage growth has occurred during the 9-to-5 business hours, operators have still experienced significant growth during the 6 pm-to-12 pm peak hours: Peak hours downstream consumption is up 21.15 per cent from January, while upstream usage rose 35.95 per cent.
  • Overall, daily usage grew from 12.19 GB in January to 16.22 GB through April 3rd, indicating a new monthly run rate of more than 480 GB per subscriber during the current crisis.

In contrast to quarantined markets, areas that have not yet experienced restrictive policies have shown significantly less growth and may yet experience additional increases, according to OpenVault. Using the same January through April 3rd timeframe, OpenVault data shows that average daily data consumption in less impacted markets is up 38.2 per cent during the 9-to-5 weekday hours, while peak hour usage has risen just 8 per cent per day since January.

“It’s too early to say that the industry has weathered the storm of additional usage, but signs point to the greatest surge of growth by far as being behind us,” said Mark Trudeau, CEO and founder of OpenVault. “Operators will need to keep close eyes on any incremental increases – particularly during peak hours and in the upstream – as well as the impact of new quarantines in additional markets, but their networks seem in the meantime to be well-prepared to handle this increased data consumption.”


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