OpenVault: Monthly broadband usage crosses half-terabyte milestone

A new report from OpenVault found the percentage of broadband users consuming more than a terabyte of data per month continues to climb, helping push average monthly consumption beyond half a terabyte for the first time in Q4 2021.

The average monthly usage in Q4 hit 536.3 GB in the period, up 11.1% from 482.6 GB in Q4 2020, according to OpenVault’s Broadband Insights report. OpenVault’s data showed the percentage of users consuming more than 1 TB each month rose to 16% from 14% the year prior, while the percentage of those using more than 2 TB per month increased from 2.2% to 2.65%.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, OpenVault noted data consumption rose more slowly among subscribers on usage-based billing (UBB) plans than those on flat-rate billing (FRB). UBB customers consumed an average of 510.8 GB per month in Q4, while FRB subscribers gobbled up 576.0 GB.

“Annual growth on FRB networks (16%) in 4Q21 was nearly double that of UBB networks (8.4%), highlighting UBB’s superior ability to manage the rate of subscriber usage growth,” the report stated. “In 4Q21, there were 25% more 2TB power users on FRB-based networks than on UBB-based networks.”

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The rise in consumption was accompanied by increased adoption of higher-speed broadband tiers. In Q4 2021, 12.2% of customers were on a speed tier of 1 Gbps or higher, while 5.5% took speeds of between 500-900 Mbps and 28.5% took plans offering between 200-400 Mbps. Those figures compared to 8.5%, 3.7% and 15.8%, respectively in Q4 2020. Less than 10% of subscribers remain on tiers offering speeds below 50 Mbps.

“The gigabit speed tier grew by a factor of 4.25x between 4Q19 and 4Q21.” the report noted. “That desire for more speed has implications for network operators, as the faster the speed, the more bandwidth subscribers consume.”