Report: Speed clipping nears 400% of early pandemic levels

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The percentage of subscribers who are pushing against the upper limits of their broadband speed tiers has increased dramatically during the past 18 months, according to the Q3 OpenVault Broadband Insights report. solutions and data-driven insights for the broadband industry.

Speed clipping – defined as a subscriber exceeding 80 per cent of provisioned broadband speed – spiked at nearly 400 per cent of early pandemic levels in comparisons between May 2020 and September 2021 usage figures. Speed clipping can result in poor customer experiences that require customer care and network troubleshooting resources to resolve. In reality, the issues are not network-based and this effort and expense can be avoided through the use of proper analytics tools

While the number of gigabit subscribers has grown 4.5X over the last two years, the majority of subscribers (56.2 per cent) remain in speed tier packages of 200 Mbps or slower. Speed clipping occurs as those subscribers access – often simultaneously by multiple users in the same household – high-bandwidth applications such as video streaming, gaming and video conferencing.

Using data from one of OpenVault’s broadband providers, the report indicates that downstream speed clipping in September 2021 was close to 400 per cent of the May 2020 figure during the 9pm hour. In the upstream, where many providers are architecturally constrained by capacity limits, speed clipping peaked at a 150 per cent increase during the 11:00pm hour. Overall, speed clipping incidents were up 52.6 per cent in the downstream and 48.8 per cent in the upstream during the same time period.

“By effectively identifying speed-clipping subscribers, network operators can prevent unnecessary truck rolls and better target them with speed upgrade offers that ultimately provide the consumer with a better experience,” the report says. “The results can improve customer satisfaction and net promoter scores (NPS), reduce operational expenses, and increase ARPU.”

Other findings from OpenVault’s analysis of Q2 2021 data patterns included:

  • Monthly weighted average usage – including both usage-based billing (UBB) and flat-rate billing (FRB) subscribers – was 434.9 GB, up 13 per cent over Q3 2020 and up slightly from  Q2 2021.
  • Monthly median usage continues to grow at a faster pace than average usage, indicating broad-based entrenchment of broadband within consumers’ lives. In Q3 2021, median usage growth of 21 per cent was 61 per cent higher than the 13 per cent average usage growth.
  • Growth is happening significantly faster on systems that offer Flat-Rate Billing (FRB) plans versus those that utilize Usage-Based Billing (UBB). FRB subscribers usage growth was 52 per cent more than that of UBB subscribers, resulting in usage per subscriber that was nearly 10 per cent higher (458GB vs. 419GB); in addition, FRB-based networks exhibited 53 per cent growth among extreme power users of 2 TB or more, while extreme power user growth among UBB subscribers was 39 per cent.

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