Internet usage is surging to new heights: when 1 terabyte is no longer enough bandwidth

nanoguy

Posts: 713   +12
Staff member
In context: With more people staying at home and relying on connected devices to study, work, and get their entertainment fix, it shouldn't surprise anyone that Internet traffic has surged to unprecedented levels. Last year, broadband providers saw both a change in peak traffic as well as a change in peak hours, which prompted them to speed up deployment of additional network and server capacity in an effort to cope with the added demand.

Internet usage is surging to new heights, and individual households are going through data caps faster with every passing month. For people who use over one terabyte per month, their Internet connection is about to become more expensive.

According to a report published by vendor OpenVault, there's been a significant increase in the number of US Internet subscribers that are using over one terabyte of data per month. In the last quarter of 2020, over 14 percent of subscribers consumed over one terabyte of data per month, which is almost double the figure registered during the same period in 2019. This includes users with data caps and those who have unlimited plans.

Households that are on unlimited plans chewed through more data than those on capped plans, with 2.5 percent consuming over two terabytes per month. Average data usage across subscribers was 482.6 GB in Q4 2020, up from 344 GB in the same quarter of 2019.

Interestingly, most of this growth happened months after the first lockdowns were established, as the second and third quarters of 2020 only saw a moderate increase in data consumption. During that time, companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T chose to suspend data caps, only to gradually reintroduce them alongside price hikes on all data plans.

Most ISPs impose data caps of around one terabyte, and that will gradually become a major pain point for everyone who uses streaming services and video conferencing apps, as those will typically eat through the allotment faster than just about anything else. For every additional 50 GB consumed, ISPs charge an average of $10, which can quickly pile up.

The source of this data, OpenVault is a company dedicated to supply data-tracking capabilities to over 150 cable, fiber, and wireless ISPs worldwide. Since 2012, it claims to have generated "over $150 million in incremental revenue annually." Its findings are definitely interesting, as they show that many Internet power users provide ISPs with the opportunity to charge more for unlimited data plans. Furthermore, if this usage growth trend continues, many more users that typically wouldn't hit their data caps will end up paying overage fees.

Permalink to story.

 

Uncle Al

Posts: 8,001   +6,775
Not enough eh? Darn, our electric company is putting in 1T lines in our area and I'll be on it in less than a year ...... sigh, oh well, still behind the times ......
 

GeforcerFX

Posts: 1,004   +473
If your working from home then it would probably be wise to get a business or premium plans that are setup for heavy user traffic. Prob not gonna see ISP's raise home internet data caps above the current limits by much for the next 3 or 4 years.
 

Sangheili

Posts: 7   +5
"When 1 terabyte is no longer enough bandwidth.."

Clearly a goof, but if games keep ballooning in size they'll come a time very soon when you'll NEED 1tb/second.
yap
231GB - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
149GB - Hitman 2 + all DLC
131GB - Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Siege (with HD texture packs)
127GB - Microsoft Flight Simulator. Planet Earth on a 1:1 scale

really you only use it for downloading that much data but if you refresh your computer and downlaod everything at once those 4 games are 6387GB of hdd space

but just counting my data without the family I use about 400-600GB a month and sadly thats just me
 

toooooot

Posts: 1,453   +728
Data caps only exist in the U.S. The rest of the world never heard of it. That makes the US a laughing stock of the world! Lack of competition and regulations!
Either we as a nation do not invest enough in expanding and improving our internet and its speed, or we are throwing money at the companies that are supposed to do exactly that, and all they improve is the prices their customers pay.
Comes to mind a lawsuit in USA where some internet companies were punished for taking money and doing n o t h I n g to expand the coverage and speed.
Therefore I believe that we obviously have a problem, and it lies deep in pathological greed of internet companies.
 

Sedziwoj

Posts: 24   +13
Funny thing, in my country we had data caps in past, when they remove them (because real free market) data usage go down, because people stop downloading stuff "because they have data cap, and may need it".
But for USA is hard thing, to fight with monopolies/oligopolies...
 

Namtrooper

Posts: 107   +53
Data caps only exist in the U.S. The rest of the world never heard of it. That makes the US a laughing stock of the world! Lack of competition and regulations!
Correction. Data caps were never a thing until articles starting flooding the internet and our local ISP's were like "Hey! Why aren't we milking the locals for more!?" the beginning of the end. Fortunately we still have some uncapped options locally. But normally quite slow connections in comparison to the states. So you could download all day every day and probably never hit 1Tb of data.
 

Hexic

Posts: 910   +1,208
TechSpot Elite
Correction. Data caps were never a thing until articles starting flooding the internet and our local ISP's were like "Hey! Why aren't we milking the locals for more!?" the beginning of the end. Fortunately we still have some uncapped options locally. But normally quite slow connections in comparison to the states. So you could download all day every day and probably never hit 1Tb of data.

Agreed, some ISPs in the states still have no caps, but at times their reliability comes into question (*cough* Frontier *cough*).

But what I will say is I have consistently experienced faster, and more solid connections in the states than most of Europe... With the trade-off of being beat with data caps.
 

Rdmetz

Posts: 178   +75
My company provides caps that go up with speed at 150mbps ($79) you get 500gb but at 300gbps ($99) you get 1tb you can also pay for 1gbps and it comes with and it comes with 2.5tb BUT it costs $199 and just feels like way too much.

But what's good is that for $30 extra they allow unlimited data on any of the plans. So what I ended up going with is 300mbps speed with unlimited data for $130 a month.

Plenty fast to do everything I need including lots of gaming and 4k streaming like 132gb copy of a certain "extended edition" recent remaster and not one bit of stutter.

I'd much rather have 300mbps speeds with no limits than having gig service and still have to think about data caps.
 

momir

Posts: 17   +6
My company provides caps that go up with speed at 150mbps ($79) you get 500gb but at 300gbps ($99) you get 1tb you can also pay for 1gbps and it comes with and it comes with 2.5tb BUT it costs $199 and just feels like way too much.

But what's good is that for $30 extra they allow unlimited data on any of the plans. So what I ended up going with is 300mbps speed with unlimited data for $130 a month.

Plenty fast to do everything I need including lots of gaming and 4k streaming like 132gb copy of a certain "extended edition" recent remaster and not one bit of stutter.

I'd much rather have 300mbps speeds with no limits than having gig service and still have to think about data caps.

In Serbia I am paying ~40$ for 500/50 Mbps no cap with the cable tv and phone included. This is the top tier subscription with all channels, packages and what not. 1Tbps is 60$ more and not worth it yet at least.
 

GeforcerFX

Posts: 1,004   +473
In Serbia I am paying ~40$ for 500/50 Mbps no cap with the cable tv and phone included. This is the top tier subscription with all channels, packages and what not. 1Tbps is 60$ more and not worth it yet at least.
Comparing countries by cost is pointless, the average Serbian makes the same as minimum wage workers in the USA. Depending on where you are in the states you have gigabit plans for around $100 a month. I pay $75 for 300/25 mbps but I live in a more rural state, the same money gets my friend similar speeds to you out on the west coast.
 

rmcrys

Posts: 26   +26
Comparing countries by cost is pointless, the average Serbian makes the same as minimum wage workers in the USA. Depending on where you are in the states you have gigabit plans for around $100 a month. I pay $75 for 300/25 mbps but I live in a more rural state, the same money gets my friend similar speeds to you out on the west coast.

Pointless is it not, because you can compare how much money the ISP won and even so artificially cap the amount of data so they charge even more!

As a comparison: here in Germany I have a 1 Gbit connection with no data caps (I have months were I am weeeeeeell over 1 TB and never had anything limited). 39.90€/ month.
 

Squuiid

Posts: 58   +43
1Gbps synchronous for £40/month (US$55) here in the UK. No cap.

People in US need to write to their members of Congress and do something about it. $10/50Gb overage is robbery.
Inaction and chatting about it on a tech forum isn’t going to achieve much unfortunately.
 
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momir

Posts: 17   +6
Comparing countries by cost is pointless, the average Serbian makes the same as minimum wage workers in the USA. Depending on where you are in the states you have gigabit plans for around $100 a month. I pay $75 for 300/25 mbps but I live in a more rural state, the same money gets my friend similar speeds to you out on the west coast.

It is not pointless as others after my post said as well, the truth is that on a major scale USA ISPs are ripping everyone off because in Europe we largely have uncapped bandwith. It is 2021, get with the times already.
 

amghwk

Posts: 998   +885
I thought the word "bandwidth" means the internet transfer speed (usually referred to the download speed)? Shouldn't the title read '...1TB of data usage per month' instead?

Edit: I guess both means the same thing.
 
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Puiu

Posts: 4,407   +3,218
TechSpot Elite
I thought the word "bandwidth" means the internet transfer speed (usually referred to the download speed)? Shouldn't the title read '...1TB of data usage per month' instead?

Edit: I guess both means the same thing.
you have the speed of the internet measured in Mbps and the bandwidth of your connection which is how many Mb you are allowed to use during a given period of time. it is indeed interchangeable with your internet's speed if measured per second.
 

Toju Mikie

Posts: 172   +152
I'm fortunate to have an ISP that doesn't have a data cap (Spectrum). Comcast and other companies are hurting the advance of technology by imposing data caps. They only increased it to 1.2TB after many years of the 1TB cap (since 2016). Data usage has been exponentially increasing.

Game sizes, streaming, content creation, all are being hampered by these caps.
4k streaming, how about 8k streaming?
I played an 8k video on YouTube and it used about 36GB/hour for a 30fps video!
 
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DukeD

Posts: 25   +20
Either we as a nation do not invest enough in expanding and improving our internet and its speed, or we are throwing money at the companies that are supposed to do exactly that, and all they improve is the prices their customers pay.
Comes to mind a lawsuit in USA where some internet companies were punished for taking money and doing n o t h I n g to expand the coverage and speed.
Therefore I believe that we obviously have a problem, and it lies deep in pathological greed of internet companies.
Just indicative of carriers like Comcast, etc. Looking for any excuse to raise monthly rates. Guess they've been paying dividends rather than looking to the future. Want their clients to pay for it, not them!
 

ZipperBoi

Posts: 69   +120
I live in North Dakota, in my area Midco is the current monopoly on ISP services, but BEK is moving into the area which is good for competition. Neither of the company's have data caps which is amazing. Can rip through as much data as I want.