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The Latest Stats on Broadband Usage

OpenVault released its Broadband Insights Report for 2Q22, which contains statistics about nationwide broadband usage at the end of the quarter. As usual, the OpenVault report is an invaluable peek into the national state of broadband.

The report shows that the average home used 491 gigabytes of data at the end of the second quarter. This is up by 13% of the 433 gigabytes used at the end of the second quarter of 2021. The second quarter usage, which represents June 30, is typically the lowest usage levels of the year due to schools being out of session and folks on vacation.

Upload bandwidth usage continues to grow and averaged 31.2 gigabytes per household, up from 28 gigabytes in 2021 and 13.6 gigabytes in 2018. Average upload speeds increased from 17 Mbps in 2021 to 23 Mbps in 2022.

The percentage of households that use more than 1-terabyte (1,000 gigabytes) of data each month continues to grow rapidly. OpenVault calls these power users. These are homes that will trigger data caps if they have an ISP that enforces them. At the end of the second quarter of 2022, 13.7% of homes are using more than a terabyte compared to 10.8% in 2021, an increase of over 26%. The percentage of homes using more than 2-terabytes increased from 1.5% in 2021 to 2.2% in 2022, an increase of 47%.

There has been a huge migration of folks subscribing to faster tiers of broadband. The most extraordinary statistic is that 14.2% of American homes now subscribe to gigabit service, up from 4.6% just two years ago.

Much of this shift, shown in the table below, is coming from cable companies that unilaterally increased speeds for customers, but many millions of customers have also upgraded to more expensive broadband tiers to get faster broadband. The following chart shows a remarkable trend since June 2020:

Subscriptions June 2020 June 2021 June 2022
Under 50 Mbps 18.4% 10.5% 5.7%
50 – 99 Mbps 20.4% 9.6% 8.5%
100 – 199 Mbps 37.8% 47.5% 10.1%
200 – 499 Mbps 13.5% 17.2% 55.4%
500 – 999 Mbps 5.0% 4.7% 6.0%
1 Gbps 4.9% 10.5% 14.2%

This chart, better than anything else I’ve seen, lays to rest the idea that the national definition of broadband ought to be 100 Mbps download. As of June of this year, 76% of U.S. households are subscribing to broadband plans of 200 Mbps or faster. The most popular tier is 200-400 Mbps, which makes sense since the big cable companies have migrated most broadband customers to speeds of 200 Mbps or 300 Mbps.

Interestingly, OpenVault says that ACP customers are using more broadband, at 654 gigabytes, than the average home. There are also 52% more power users among ACP subscribers using more than a terabyte of data than the overall population. OpenVault doesn’t speculate why this is so, but I would guess that part of the difference might be that homes getting broadband for the first time have a lot of streaming video from recent years to catch up on. I remember how much video my household watched when we first got Netflix – but over time, we went back to other activities.

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