U.S. broadband usage up, 'power users' nearly double

Jan. 22, 2019
According to OpenVault, broadband usage in the United States continued to accelerate across all market categories throughout 2018, and ...

According to OpenVault, broadband usage in the United States continued to accelerate across all market categories throughout 2018, and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) made substantial year-end inroads into consumers' device ecosystems.

OpenVault says both average and median data usage for year-end 2018 increased when compared with year-end 2017 statistics. The rate of growth for median usage continued to exceed the growth rate for average usage, indicating that consumption is growing across service providers' entire subscriber bases, rather than only among heavy users.

OpenVault's year-end 2018 data indicates that:

  • Average usage for all households was 268.7 GB/HH in 2018, up from 226.4 GB/HH at the end of June 2018 and a 33.3% increase over the YE 2017 average of 201.6 GB/HH.
  • Median usage was 145.2 GB/HH in 2018, up from 116.4 GB/HH in June 2018 and a 40% increase over the YE 2017 median of 103.6 GB/HH.
  • The percentage of power users - defined as those households using 1 TB or more - almost doubled in 2018, rising to 4.12% of all households from 2.11% in 2017, while the percentage of households exceeding 250 GB rose to 36.4% from 28.4% during the same timespan.

OpenVault's 2018 data also indicates that average usage for households with flat-rate pricing was 282.1 GB/HH, more than 9% higher than the 258.2 GB/HH average usage for households on usage-based billing (UBB) plans. The percentage of flat-rate (non-UBB) households exceeding 1 TB of usage was 4.82%, a full percentage point higher than the 3.81% of UBB households who exceeded the 1 TB threshold.

"As connected devices, streaming services and broadband speeds increase, service providers need an alternative to infrastructure upgrades that would enable them to keep up with demand," said Josh Barstow, executive vice president of corporate strategy and business development for OpenVault. "Our analysis makes it clear that usage-based billing is among the most effective tools the industry has in managing consumption and reducing the need for massive capital expenditures."

In addition to analyzing trends in broadband consumption, OpenVault also tracked expansion within the U.S. consumer device landscape, observing a 5.3% increase in connected devices when comparing the week after Christmas with the week before Christmas. While Amazon, Samsung and Apple collectively accounted for the majority of the growth, the 15.6% rate of increase for Amazon devices was significantly higher than the rates of growth for Samsung (4.1%) and Apple (2.9%).

"Clearly, the substantial increase observed during the holiday season in the number of devices per household contributed to the data consumption usage growth we are seeing," said Tony Costa, executive vice president and CTO of OpenVault. "Although Apple remains the dominant manufacturer in terms of total devices connected per household, Amazon is gaining market share in the race to own the household connected device environment."