Cord cutter broadband usage surges to more than half a terabyte of data per month

While the over-the-top (OTT) video wars play out across various devices and screens, cord cutters are having a dramatic impact on broadband usage, according to a report.

According to a report by broadband analytics vendor OpenVault, the average broadband consumption by cord cutters was 520.8 GB per month, an increase of 7% in the third quarter of this year. The third quarter OpenVault Broadband Industry report took the pulse of "power" cord cutter broadband users and their impact on service providers' networks.

The report also highlighted differences in consumption patterns between subscribers on usage-based billing (UBB) plans and those on flat-rate billing (FRB) plans.

According to the report, the percentage of cord cutters who are “power users” that consume 1 TB or more of data per month is 12%, which is almost triple the 4.2% third-quarter figure for weighted average (UBB plus FRB) subscribers.

The total number of power users increased 62% year-over-year, driven largely by FRB subscribers. While UBB subscribers chose 1 Gbps packages at a rate that is 89% higher than that of FRB subscribers, FRB subscribers exceeded 1 TB at a 30% higher rate and 2 TB at a 64% higher rate than those on UBB plans.

Despite the increased usage in streaming, OpenVault’s analysis showed that only 29% of the users upgraded their broadband packages when interacting with operators’ customer care teams to sever video services. Two thirds of cord cutters maintained the same broadband packages, while 4% actually downgraded their broadband services.

"A cord cutting event usually signals a need for faster broadband speeds,” the report said. "Cord cutters are opting for high-bandwidth OTT services, and are using multiple devices in the home to consume video, often simultaneously. This behavior lends itself to higher speed, higher margin broadband packages to ensure an acceptable broadband customer experience, and the cord cutting event is the best time for operators to educate customers and upsell them accordingly.”

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According to the report, the Q3 2019 overall weighted average broadband usage in the United States was 275 GB, a year-over-year increase of 21% over the 228 GB in the same quarter a year ago. During the same period, the median monthly weighted average usage increased nearly 25% from 118.2 GB to 147.4 GB, indicating that consumption is increasing across the market as a whole.

The report also looked at usage across speed tiers between European subscribers and their North American counterparts. At faster levels of service, usage is closely aligned between the two regions and is almost identical at the 50-75 Mbps tier; at lower tiers North American subscribers are consuming data at greater rates, including nearly 150% more at the 30-40 Mbps speed tier, and nearly 50% more at the 10-20 Mbps tier.