Research: Gigabit-speed subs continue rise

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Although data usage moderated in Q1 2021 after pandemic-fuelled rapid growth in 2020, subscribers continued to adapt to the new broadband environment by embracing faster speeds, according to the Q1 2021 OVBI (OpenVault Broadband Insights) report from broadband technology solutions and data-driven insights specialist OpenVault.

Almost one-tenth (9.8 per cent) of all subscribers were provisioned for gigabit speeds at the end of Q1, a year-over-year increase of 261 per cent from the Q120 figure of 3.8 per cent and a 15 per cent increase from the 8.5 per cent adoption rate in 4Q20. Over the past two quarters, the percentage of subscribers provisioned for gigabit-speed service has risen 75 per cent, from 5.6 per cent in 3Q20.

The report also notes that slightly more than 80 per cent of subscribers are provisioned for 100 Mbps speeds or higher, and that fewer than 5 per cent are at 20 Mbps or slower. Subscribers on usage-based billing (UBB) plans are adopting higher-speed packages faster than those on flat-rate billing plans. The percentage of UBB subscribers on 100 Mbps tiers in Q121 grew 35 per cent year-over-year, more than double the annual growth of 17 per cent for FRB subscribers.

Among other findings from OpenVault’s analysis of Q121 data patterns:

  • Monthly weighted average usage – including both UBB and FRB subscribers – was 461.7 GB, up nearly 15 per cent from 402.5 in Q120 and down 4.3 per cent from 482.6 in 4Q20. The slight quarter-to-quarter decline is in line with historical first-quarter trends.
  • Nearly all of the decline in monthly average usage occurred in the downstream; monthly average upstream usage remained relatively flat when compared to the 31 GB recorded in 4Q20.
  • Power usage and extreme power usage, or consumption of more than 1 TB and 2 TB per month respectively, declined in Q121. The percentage of power users dropped 12 per cent to 12.4 per cent, from 14.1 per cent in 4Q20, while the percentage of extreme power users declined 14 per cent, to 1.8 per cent from 4Q20’s 2.2 per cent. While OpenVault does not track device usage, it believes that the declines are related to subscribers returning to office and school environments.
  • 1 TB power users on UBB plans declined 15.4 per cent in Q121; the decline for those 1 TB users on unlimited FRB plans was less than half of that, or 7.1 per cent.

“UBB operators are having more success at slowing the trajectory of bandwidth usage on their network than are FRB operators…despite UBB operators having a higher percentage of higher speed, higher ARPU subscribers,” the report states. “This widening gap in Q121 of total bandwidth usage between UBB networks vs. FRB networks and the revenue and profitability implications that it may represent bear watching.”


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