Although data usage moderated in Q1 2021 after pandemic-fueled rapid growth last year, subscribers continued to adapt to the new broadband environment by embracing faster speeds, according to the Q1 2021 OVBI (OpenVault Broadband Insights) report. The report was issued today by OpenVault, a source of SaaS-based revenue and network improvement solutions and data-driven insights for the broadband industry.
According to the new research, almost one-tenth (9.8%) of all subscribers were provisioned for gigabit speeds at the end of Q1, a year-over-year increase of 261% from the 1Q20 figure of 3.8% and a 15% increase from the 8.5% adoption rate in 4Q20. Further, over the past two quarters the percentage of subscribers provisioned for gigabit-speed service has risen 75%, from 5.6% in 3Q20.
The report also notes that slightly more than 80% of subscribers are provisioned for 100 Mbps speeds or higher, and that fewer than 5% are at 20 Mbps or slower. OpenVault finds that subscribers on usage-based billing (UBB) plans are adopting higher-speed packages faster than those on flat-rate billing plans. The report finds percentage of UBB subscribers on 100 Mbps tiers in 1Q21 grew 35% year-over-year, more than double the annual growth of 17% for FRB subscribers.
Among other findings from OpenVault’s analysis of 1Q21 data patterns:
- Monthly weighted average usage – including both UBB and FRB subscribers – was 461.7 GB, up nearly 15% from 402.5 in 1Q20 and down 4.3% from 482.6 in 4Q20. The slight quarter-to-quarter decline is in line with historical first-quarter trends.
- Nearly all of the decline in monthly average usage occurred in the downstream; monthly average upstream usage remained relatively flat when compared to the 31 GB recorded in 4Q20.
- Power usage and extreme power usage, or consumption of more than 1 TB and 2 TB per month respectively, declined in 1Q21. The percentage of power users dropped 12% to 12.4%, from 14.1% in 4Q20, while the percentage of extreme power users declined 14%, to 1.8% from 4Q20’s 2.2%. While OpenVault does not track device usage, it believes that the declines are related to subscribers returning to office and school environments.
- 1 TB power users on UBB plans declined 15.4% in 1Q21; the decline for those 1 TB users on unlimited FRB plans was less than half of that, or 7.1%.
“UBB operators are having more success at slowing the trajectory of bandwidth usage on their network than are FRB operators [...] despite UBB operators having a higher percentage of higher speed, higher ARPU subscribers,” the report states. “This widening gap in 1Q21 of total bandwidth usage between UBB networks vs. FRB networks and the revenue and profitability implications that it may represent bear watching.”
OpenVault will host a webinar to elaborate on the report on Thursday, June 10 at 11 a.m. EST. Registration is here.
The entire report is available here.