February 2017 – For HBO Game of Thrones fans, “Winter is Coming” is a familiar motto that is often used by the characters to convey warning and constant vigilance to always be prepared for the coming of winter.  As streaming behaviors continue to explode and OTT content such as the Game of Thrones becomes increasingly popular at unprecedented rates, the motto is analogous to the industry’s responsibility to prepare for and manage data usage growth.
For example, OpenVault recently looked at data usage growth from December 2015 to 2016 and saw an average usage increase of 35 percent household, with an average of 155 gigabytes used per subscriber.  Interestingly, even more significant growth was observed in the median usage levels with an increase of 45 percent, which means the growing usage is across the entire customer base, not just power users.
Clearly, this usage growth will only continue.  According to The NPD Group Connected Intelligence Connected Home Entertainment Report, ownership of connected televisions and streaming media players is accelerating while the availability of streaming content is simultaneously expanding. These combined forces will continue to drive increased adoption of connected devices within U.S. households. At the same time, as the number of households that have access to OTT content surges, video streaming services are expanding their subscriber base while providing more programming.  
To this end, the industry responsibility lies within the management of this bandwidth growth to build and maintain networks that can forecast and handle the usage demands.  However, the business opportunities lie within the ability to monetize the growth and align growing revenues with growing demand on broadband networks. There is no doubt that winter is coming and those operators, content owners and distributors who diligently prepare will be better able to manage the growth and be positioned to also see substantial revenue increases.