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Average broadband use on pace to break terabyte barrier by 2030

Broadband consumption data shows record use of 641GB per subscriber in 2023, with leap to 1TB expected by end of decade

Global broadband data consumption records are set to be broken, with broadband use on track to approach or surpass 700GB per month by the end of this year and a terabyte (TB) within the next five years, according to an OpenVault Broadband Insights (OVBI) quarterly update.

The provider of software-as-a-service-based revenue and network improvement solutions and data-driven insights for the broadband industry found that in the first quarter of 2023, average monthly broadband use surged above 600GB for the first time. The year ended with consumption of 641GB per month, extending a multiyear trend of 9% annual increases.

In its fourth quarter 2023 report, OVBI projects that continued growth at the same pace would push the average per subscriber amount of data consumed past the 1TB per month mark by the end of 2028.

The latest report also observed the continued rapid growth of high-volume users. The percentages of power users (1TB or more) and super-power users (2TB or more) have soared by 437% and 1,235%, respectively, since 2018, while a newly identified category of extreme power users (5TB or more) has risen by 71% in the past year alone. In addition, commercial customers are contributing to significant growth in upstream traffic, which has risen by 158.48% since 2018.

Monthly average data use was 641GB per subscriber, up 9.3% year-on-year from 586.7GB at the end of 2022, and up 16.5% from 550.2GB in the third quarter of 2023.

The 71% rise in extreme power users was just part of the meteoric growth across all power user categories. Power users now account for more than one-fifth of all subscribers, at 21.6%, while the percentage of super-power users grew by 37% to 4.7% of total users. Nearly 40% of all users provisioned for gigabit speeds are power users.

Commercial subscribers’ 68GB of monthly upstream usage is 74% higher than the 39GB used monthly by residential subscribers.

“The combined impact of these growth factors is amplifying the need for increased operator focus on network performance and quality of experience, especially as operators deploy DOCSIS 3.1 and DOCSIS 4.0 technologies,” the report observed. “Studies show that slow or inconsistent internet speed and repeated connection issues erode customer satisfaction and loyalty more than any other factor.”

Highlighting growth over the year, OpenVault’s report for the second quarter of 2023 revealed that power users streamed more than 2.2TB of data per month, nearly six times as much as average users. Furthermore, power users’ gaming consumption of 498GB per month in the second quarter of 2023 was 2,271% higher than the 21GB per month from average users, who the OVBI defines as anyone consuming 400-600GB per month.

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