OpenVault study shows impact of business hours increases and individual subscriber behavior on upstream capacity

Hoboken, NJ; April 1, 2021 – With business hours consumption leading the way, broadband upstream traffic growth during 2020 was 350% of historic rates, according to a new OVBI Special Report issued today by OpenVault, a market-leading source of SaaS-based revenue and network improvement solutions and data-driven insights for the broadband industry.

Upstream usage grew 63% – from 19 GB to 31 GB – between December 2019 and December 2020, far outpacing the 18% rate of increase for the upstream in each of the two prior years. The report also details how average upstream traffic during the 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. timeframe grew from 5.25 GB to 10.42 GB per subscriber per month as of December 2020, a 98.5% increase, while per-subscriber monthly downstream consumption during the same period increased just 51.74%, from 91.90GB to 139.45GB. 

“Pandemic Impact on Upstream Broadband Usage and Network Capacity” discusses how remote work, education, entertainment and personal communication put significant pressure on operators’ significantly limited upstream capacity beginning in March 2020. It also examines options that are available to broadband operators when only a few subscribers disproportionately impact the upstream experience for a much larger group of customers.

Among the findings:

  • Upstream growth in 4Q 2020 was 24%, a faster rate of increase than the 18% growth rate for all of 2018 or 2019.
  • The top 1% of subscribers account for approximately 30% of upstream usage, and the top 5% of subscribers account for more than 50% of upstream consumption.
  • During peak hours, operators routinely face situations in which a single subscriber accounts for more than 80% of available upstream capacity.

The report discusses a variety of remedies for relieving pressure on the upstream, ranging from mid-splits that can cost up to $35,000 per node to a more targeted approach implemented by mid-sized operators in the United States. Faced with an increasing number of incidents in which upstream traffic exceeded 80% of node capacity, operators are pinpointing bottlenecks, identifying subscribers who are impacting service, and applying automatic capacity management protocols.

“Pandemic lockdowns changed the nature of upstream usage – in all likelihood, forever,” the report notes. “Continued high levels of remote work and a new embrace of videoconferencing for communication needs mean that consumption will pressure the limited upstream capacity of many broadband infrastructures. Moreover, the unique role of the upstream as an enabler of two-way communication makes unfettered performance essential.”

The entire report is available at OpenVault also provides continuously updated broadband consumption figures at

About OpenVault 

OpenVault and OpenVault Europe GmbH are market-leading sources of broadband technology solutions and data-driven insights into worldwide broadband consumption patterns. The companies’ cloud-based, SaaS solutions and tools help service providers optimize network performance, increase revenue and improve subscriber satisfaction. OpenVault and OpenVault Europe aggregate and analyze the resulting market data to provide unparalleled granular views of consumer usage that can be used to anticipate residential and business broadband trends.

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