Average Broadband Use Pushes 600GB a Month

John Lister's picture

The average US broadband subscriber uses almost 600GB a month according to new estimates. The figures also show people on an affordable connection program are making the most of it.

The figures come from OpenVault, a company that provides technology for "optimizing networks," which naturally means it has an interest in showing broadband networks are under strain.

According to the report, the average use was 586.7GB a month, up almost 10 percent last year. That includes both uploads and downloads, which remain in roughly the same proportion as last year.

The averages are certainly being driven up by so-called "power users." The proportion of people using 1TB or more a month is 18.7 percent, while the proportion using 2TB or more a month is 3.4 percent. (Source: prweb.com)

Speed Surprises

One of the more surprising revelations in the study is that many of the people with the fastest speeds can't necessarily use them. While 26 percent of all broadband subscribers have gigabit speed available, that rises to 35 percent among people who are on a "usage-based billing" plan, such as those with a fixed data cap and excess fees for using more than the allowance.

Another surprising figure involved the FCC's Affordable Connectivity Program, which funds a discount of up to $30 a month for low income households. However, the figure comes with a caveat.

While most of the averages used were means (total use divided by number of users), this comparison used the median, meaning the figure which half of users are above and half below.

Christmas Boost

In this comparison, the average use by people in the program was 531.9GB a month, compared with 396.6 GB for all users. That could be a sign that the discount is helping people get on to a plan with a higher data limit (or unlimited use) rather than simply making the difference in them getting broadband at all.

The report also suggested a seasonal trending emerging, with "significantly higher average usage" than normal on Christmas day for the first time. Possible explanations include more streaming video use (for example to keep kids occupied), new console owners playing online, and video calls to family members. (Source: computerweekly.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Do you know your monthly data use? If you have a data cap, does it affect your Internet use? Are you surprised by the Affordable Connectivity Program statistics?

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LouieLouEye's picture

I just checked with my provider and was surprised to learn that my usage last month was 686GB. I would guess that 80% of that is streaming on the television. I have a plan that is up to 2TB per month for around $80 U.S.

olds97_lss's picture

We frequently hit 90% of our 1.2TB of available internet. More the past year or so since we have been streaming a lot of what we watch. Considering our comcast bill is already $200 a month (after we slimmed down our channels and removed the land line)... oddly, they don't make it all that clear as to if or how to increase that.

jimain's picture

This article intrigued me, so I spent the next hour trying to find out my data usage from my ISP, remembering that it used to show up on incredibly long statements each month. It's no longer available to customers unless they use an ISP-provided modem and router, for an extra $5/month for each, in addition to Chatting with a data withholder for a long time. The excuse is my modem and router providers could get access to my usage information, clearly a Privacy violation. Still an interesting article.

Dennis Faas's picture

If you can access your router administration page and it has a section for up time / usage history, you can figure out how much data is being used per month providing that you don't lose power to the router in the 30 days you're analyzing it. You can reset the usage data simply by shutting off the router and turning it back on.

That said, I think if you call your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and ask them "how much data is being used per month on my account?" they should be able to provide an answer regardless of whether or not you are using their modem. It's a matter of looking at data in and data out on the network associated with your account. For example: if they cap the rate per month, they will need to track this information even if you aren't renting their modem.

highprairiest's picture

Due to various reasons, I have one of those government "allowances" for a discount on my broadband bill. However, my Hughesnet plan only allows us 10G per month. That runs out fairly soon, which means no videos/downloads/photos,Zoom, etc. If I need to download anything, I need to get up in the middle of the night and use Hughesnet "free" download period (from 2-8 a.m.) I really don't know how families on limited incomes are able to connect to educational programs for their kids. No wonder this nation's kids are going to be the "dumbest" on record....the pandemic that was used as an excuse by the Teachers Unions to provide year's long vacations at the expense of the kids is criminal.
Anyway, when I see in your article that others are getting 600G and more per month, how much does that cost and by what providers? I am in the mountains and depend on Satalite for tv and internet, and no cell service. That limits availabilty for people in my area.

Dennis Faas's picture

You might want to look into Starlink. They offer significantly better speeds that Hughesnet from what I've read and without the limitations you're suggesting.