Coronavirus drives bandwidth to 47% increase in 1Q20 says OpenVault

May 6, 2020
The usage spike represented nearly as much growth as OpenVault had projected for all of 2020. And April showed signs of surpassing that total.

Coronavirus mitigation initiatives drove the average broadband subscriber to consume a weighted monthly average of 402.5 GB of data by the end of this past March, states OpenVault in its Q1 2020 OpenVault Broadband Insights report. That figure was 47% greater than the year-ago quarter and nearly as much growth as OpenVault had projected for all of 2020. And April showed signs of surpassing that total.

The quarter saw its sharpest growth among “power users” of 1 TB or more and “extreme power users” of 2 TB or more. The percentage of power users reached 10.0% in the quarter, up 138% over the 4.2% of power users in 1Q19. Extreme power users grew to 1.2% of all subscribers, up 215% from 1Q19’s 0.38%.

Early this year, OpenVault had projected that power users and extreme power users would represent 12% and 1.4%, respectively, of all subscribers by the end of 2020. It also had projected that average consumption would reach 425 GB per month, just above the 402.5 GB seen at the end of this year’s opening quarter. However, OpenVault says that April usage was trending toward exceeding 460 GB.

These usage increases have led subscribers to seek higher-speed services. The number of gigabit broadband subscribers rose 97% versus 1Q19 to 3.75% during the quarter. This figure represented a 34% from the 2.8% seen at the end of 2019.

“Nearly all the growth in broadband usage we would have expected for 2020 has now been achieved in the first quarter, with much of it concentrated in the last two weeks of the quarter,” the report states. “The COVID-19 pandemic changed broadband usage patterns in substantial ways, perhaps permanently. Broadband operators will need to understand the implications of this shifting broadband usage behavior and plan their network performance capabilities accordingly.”

OpenVault offers data analytics and tracking capabilities to broadband operators in software-as-a-service (SaaS) format (see, for example, "OpenVault launches remote diagnostics/care suite"). It uses subscriber usage data from more than 150 service providers across four continents to compile the report. OpenVault’s platform enables broadband service providers to track usage trends based on both flat-rate billing (FRB, or unlimited data usage) and usage-based billing (UBB, where subscribers are billed based on their bandwidth usage).

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