Clipping can have all sorts of different meanings for different people, but the only time it has a positive context is if you’re talking about scrapbooking or something similar. When the maximum speed limits for broadband internet connectivity are reached you are going to experience something called broadband speed clipping. This happens very often with video streaming, conferencing, gaming and other bandwidth-hungry pursuits.
To put it in perspective how much of a problem this is becoming, a little more than a year ago there was a report that the number of U.S. broadband users who regularly push the upper limits of their provisioned internet speed around 9 p.m. at night increased 400% from just one year earlier. Makes sense when you consider how many people are streaming content at the time of the night in a country of 350+ million people, and the only reason that doesn’t happen in Canada to the same extent is that we have only 10% of that population.
All of this leads to the inevitable reality that the entire world is stretching broadband networks to their limit like never before, and for us here at 4GoodHosting this is something that any reputable Canadian web hosting provider will take some interest in given the nature of what we do and how connectivity speed and the simple availability of sufficient bandwidth is quite front and center for a lot of the businesses and other venture for whom we provide reliable web hosting.
Hybrid Infrastructure Strain
Where we are now is that the percentage of subscribers pushing against the upper limits of their broadband networks’ speed tiers had increased dramatically over the past few years, putting massive strain on hybrid infrastructures, and along with it data consumption within infrastructures has rocketed right alongside it.
All of this was measured with a suite of broadband management tools, and used to pinpoint usage patterns, especially the differences between two key categories. Those being the number of subscribers on flat-rate billing (FRB) plans that offer unlimited data usage and in comparison to those on usage-based billing (UBB) plans where subscribers are billed based on their bandwidth consumption.
The results for the first 10 months of 2022 showed that average broadband consumption approached a new high of nearly 600GB per month by that point and the percentage of subscribers on gigabit speed tiers had gone up 2x over the course of the previous 12 months. Average per-subscriber consumption was 586.7GB at the end of 2022, and that’s a nearly 10% increase from 2021. The percentage of subscribers provisioned for gigabit speeds rose to 26% over that same time frame.
That’s more than double that reported for the fourth quarter of 2021 figure of 12.2%. Nearly 35% of surveyed subscribers were receiving gigabit network speeds, its own increase of 13% from a year ago and 2.5 times the percentage of FRB gigabit subscribers. Year-over-year upstream and downstream bandwidth growth remained relatively even for Q4 022 – 9.4% and 10.1% respectively.
Monthly 1TB+ Usage More Common
The 586.7GB average data usage number for that Q4 was up 9.4% from its Q4 2021 equivalent of 536.3GB. This show the year-on-year pace had slowed since its peak of 40.3% growth to 482.6GB in Q4 2020. Along with this the number of power users consuming 1TB or more per month was 18.7% for Q4 2022, and that equates to a year-over-year increase of 16% and 10 times the percentage seen just five years ago.
This is a very indicative reflection of the tremendous extent to which more people are going really heavy on bandwidth with streaming and the like these days. ‘Superpower’ users are being defined as anyone consumes 2 terabytes or more a month, and the number of these super users increased by 25% in Q4 2022, a significant jump from 2.7% to 3.4%, working out to a 30x increase over the previous 5 years.
Another relevant consideration is the way that as migration to faster speed tiers continued, the percentage of subscribers in tiers under 200Mbps went down by 43% for that same 4th quarter 2022. Median usage for the cross-sectioned ‘standard’ users was 531.9GB, more than 34% higher than the 396.6GB recorded by all subscribers.
The biggest higher-than-average single day aberration for much higher usage was on Christmas Day. On December 25th there was significantly higher average usage beginning in the mid-morning hours and then continuing into the afternoon. Clearly demand for greater internet speed continues to increase and network planning needs to be done around this ever-present reality. Here in Canada there is an ongoing progression towards more rural communities having high-speed internet and this will need to be a consideration for network providers as well.