The number of broadband “power users” — people who use 1TB or more per month — has doubled over the past year, ensuring that ISPs will be able to make more money from data caps. Ars Technica reports: In Q3 2020, 8.8 percent of broadband subscribers used at least 1TB per month, up from 4.2 percent in Q3 2019, according to a study released yesterday by OpenVault. OpenVault is a vendor that sells a data-usage tracking platform to cable, fiber, and wireless ISPs and has 150 operators as customers worldwide. The 8.8- and 4.2-percent figures refer to US customers only, an OpenVault spokesperson told Ars. More customers exceeding their data caps will result in more overage charges paid to ISPs that impose monthly data caps. Higher usage can also boost ISP revenue because people using more data tend to subscribe to higher-speed packages. The number of “extreme power users,” those who use at least 2TB per month, was up to about 1 percent of broadband customers in OpenVault’s Q3 2020 data. That’s nearly a three-fold increase since Q3 2019 when it was 0.36 percent. OpenVault said the average US broadband household uses 384GB a month, up from 275GB a year ago. The median figures were 229GB, up from 174GB a year ago. Usage increases happen every year, but OpenVault said this year’s boost was fueled partly by the pandemic. “While bandwidth usage is remaining relatively flat quarter over quarter, it is not retreating to pre-pandemic levels, indicating that COVID-19-driven usage growth has established a new normal pattern for bandwidth usage,” OpenVault said. European usage also went up during the pandemic but remained below US levels, with an average of 225GB and median of 156GB in Q3 2020.

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