Report: Faster speed tiers driving higher broadband usage

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The migration to faster speed tiers is driving higher levels of broadband usage across all subscribers, according to the Q2 2021 OVBI (OpenVault Broadband Insights) report.

In Q2 2021, two key metrics – the percentage of subscribers provisioned for gigabit speeds and those provisioned for speeds of 100 Mbps or less – moved sharply in opposite directions. The 10.5 per cent of subscribers provisioned for 1 Gbps or higher was more than double the 4.8 per cent figure only a year earlier, while the percentage of subscribers provisioned for speeds of 100 Mbps or less fell by half, from 39.9 per cent in Q2 2020 to 20.1 per cent through the same period.

At the same time, year-over-year growth of median usage across both usage-based billing (UBB) and flat-rate billing (FRB) subscribers jumped 22.7 per cent, from 223.3 GB in Q2 2020 to 274 GB in the second quarter of this year. The rate of increase was more than 64 per cent 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.

OpenVault analysis suggests that almost 22 per cent of subscribers would be well-served by upgrading their speeds.

Among other findings from OpenVault’s analysis of Q2 2021 data patterns:

  • Monthly weighted average usage – including both usage-based billing (UBB) and flat-rate billing (FRB) subscribers – was 433.5 GB, maintaining the trend of 14+ per cent year-over-year growth evident in Q1 2021, while exhibiting a quarter-to-quarter decline of 6 per cent that is consistent with historic patterns.
  • The percentage of subscribers using 500 GB or more increased 2.7 per cent, from 28.2 per cent in Q2 2020 to 31.9 per cent in Q2 2021. Usage at the bottom end of the scale – 0-100 GB – fell 4.7 per cent, from 34.2 per cent to 29.5 per cent.
  • With 10.5 per cent of subscribers provisioned for 1Gbps service and 10.8 per cent consuming 1 terabyte or more of data, Q2 2021 marked the first time that both metrics simultaneously topped 10 per cent.
  • While power users (>1 TB of usage/month) and extreme powers users (>2 TB/month) grew nearly 24 per cent and 50 per cent, respectively, from Q2 2020 to Q2 2021, the increase was moderated in systems that employ UBB plans. Extreme power users grew at a rate that was 31 per cent less in UBB systems in Q2 2021, and FRB systems had more than 20 per cent 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,” the report states. “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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