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Households on track to pass 250 GB data consumption per month, report says

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The amount of broadband Internet data most American household use in a month is expected to pass 250 gigabytes (GB) per month, according to an industry analysis.

In its quarterly broadband industry report reviewed by The Desk, data firm OpenVault said most households will use more than 250 GB of data per month by the end of the year, with the average American household predicted to be using an average of 425 GB of data per month by December 2020.

If true, that would represent a hefty increase from 344 GB of data used per month by American households by the end of 2019 and 270 GB of data used per month in 2018.

Two factors appear to be contributing to an increase in data use, OpenVault said: The increasing trend of American households “cutting the cord,” or choosing online streaming services for TV content in lieu of traditional cable and satellite TV service, and the rollout of the new DOCSIS 3.1 standard, which allows cable companies to offer customers gigabit-speed Internet over hybrid fiber-coaxial cable lines.

Despite the widespread availability of DOCSIS 3.1, only around 3 percent of households are taking advantage of gigabit-speed Internet service. OpenVault said the majority of households — around 37 percent — subscribe to Internet plans in the 100 to 200 Megabits-per-second (Mbps) range, while 24 percent of homes have Internet packages with speeds between 50 and 75 Mbps.

Those packages more than meet the federal definition of broadband internet and are enough for most households to comfortably access live streaming TV service while surfing the web across multiple devices.

OpenVault said flat-rate billing customers (FRB) — or those who pay one price for unlimited Internet use — and usage-based billing (UBB) customers used about the same amount of data on average. UBB customers paid an average of $56.95 in overage charges in 2018 while shelling out an average of $7.75 more to upgrade their service in 2019, ostensibly to avoid paying overage fees.

OpenVault said ISPs should consider switching their flat-rate plans to usage-based ones as customers increasingly use more broadband data, especially as customers move away from traditional pay TV bundles, which make margins tighter. The company said broadband Internet consumption is expected to jump in the future as more and more households purchase Ultra-High Definition/4K-compatible sets and streaming services.

“These trends are accelerating, especially with continued cord cutting behaviors and growing adoption of 4K UHD capable streaming services,” OpenVault said. “Understanding the historical trend as speed increases, so will consumption, operators can better predict and prepare their networks.”

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).