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Broadband subs getting 1-Gig speeds has more than doubled – study

As adoption of 1-Gig speeds takes hold and data usage climbs, the percentage of broadband subs on tiers of 200 Mbit/s or less is dropping rapidly, according to a new study from OpenVault.

Jeff Baumgartner

February 10, 2023

3 Min Read
Broadband subs getting 1-Gig speeds has more than doubled – study

Gigabit speeds are starting to take firm hold in households around the US just as multi-gigabit speeds are being launched by fiber and cable operators.

The percentage of US broadband subs on 1-Gig tiers climbed to 26% in Q4 2022, more than double the 12.2% observed in the year-ago period, OpenVault found in its latest "Broadband Insights Report (OVBI)".

Figure 1: Click here for a larger version of this image. (Source: OpenVault Broadband Insights Report, 4Q 2022) Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: OpenVault Broadband Insights Report, 4Q 2022)

OpenVault bases its findings on data from "millions" of individual broadband subscribers that are collected and aggregated from a software-as-a-service broadband service management tool in use by a wide range of ISPs.

As 1-Gig speeds gain more prominence, there's a general shift away from slower-speed tiers. The percentage of broadband customers provisioned for speeds of 200 Mbit/s or less is on the decline – 31% at the end of 2022, down 43% year-over-year, OpenVault found.

Perhaps surprisingly, OpenVault also found that adoption of gigabit speeds among customers on usable-based billing (UBB) data plans is on the rise – going from just 13.4% in Q4 2021 to 35% in Q4 2022.

One possible reason for that could be availability, as the study also found that 34.6% of broadband subs on UBB plans are provisioned for 1-Gig speeds compared to just 13.9% among customers on unlimited or flat-rate billing (FRB) plans.

But OpenVault points to another trend playing a role – that operators implementing capped, or usage-based billing plans tend to offer unlimited data as a perk to subs on those higher-margin gigabit tiers.

Average data usage nears 600GB per month

Looking at the bigger picture view, weighted average data usage rose 9.4% year-over-year, to 586.7 gigabytes. Though usage is climbing, the rate of growth has fallen well off the peak of 40.3% during the pandemic-marked Q4 2020. OpenVault expects household data usage to surpass 600GB by Q4 2023 and possibly reach 1 terabyte by the end of 2028.

Figure 2: Click here for a larger version of this image. (Source: OpenVault Broadband Insights Report, 4Q 2022) Click here for a larger version of this image.
(Source: OpenVault Broadband Insights Report, 4Q 2022)

And as more households take higher-speed plans, it's only natural that there's been an increase in "power users" – households that chew up more than 1TB per month. The percentage of users at that level rose 18.7% year-over-year.

Meanwhile, "super power users" – those consuming 2TB or more per month – climbed 25%, from 2.7% to 3.4%. That's a nearly 30x increase within the past five years, OpenVault said.

The study also found that average data usage in households on the Affordable Connectivity Plan (ACP) continues to outpace the field. In Q4, average usage in ACP households was 688.7GB, 17% higher than the broader average of 586.7GB. OpenVault has observed that some households in the ACP program use the funds to upgrade to faster speed packages.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Jeff Baumgartner

Senior Editor, Light Reading

Jeff Baumgartner is a Senior Editor for Light Reading and is responsible for the day-to-day news coverage and analysis of the cable and video sectors. Follow him on X and LinkedIn.

Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.

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