The Netflix effect: Chorus tracks huge increase in data use

New figures from network operator Chorus [NZX: CNU] track a huge increase in household broadband consumption over the past 16 months or so.

The average household used about 96 gigabytes (GB) of broadband data in January, across Chorus' copper and fibre network networks.

Fibre households used more than 200GB per month.

The company says 40% of its new UFB fibre connections are for 100Mbit/s or more – up 25% from a year ago. 

The boom coincides with the launch of the data-hungry Netflix NZ, and the advent of Spark's Lightbox and Sky TV's Neon around the same time — and Chorus says the bulge in broadband usage can indeed be pinned on those streaming video on-demand (SVOD) services. (None have released figures, but Nielsen research indicates Netflix has a big lead on the pack). Netflix uses 0.7GB per hour on its average resolution setting, 3GB per hour on its HD (high definition) setting or a stonking 7GB an hour on its 4K (ultra HD) setting.

"What this is telling us is that consumers want the headroom and speed to do what they want when they want. The 100Mbit/s and 200Mbit/s connections are removing barriers," a Chorus rep says.

Source: Chorus. Click to zoom. The streaming video boom and the public-private Ultrafast Broadband (UFB) rollout have fueled an explosion in data consumption.

Chorus also says:

  • Demand for broadband packages with datacaps look to be on the decline. One in three households are now on unlimited plans – a 300% increase over the previous year.

  • Those who still have a plan with a datacap are still using more and more data. Over 60% of broadband connections have a monthly cap greater than 50 gigabytes – up from 1.2% in 2011

  • The average broadband speed across NZ is now 25Mbit/s – up from 16Mbps a year ago. This figure could be even higher if everyone was on the fastest available plan. At the moment, more than 700,000 broadband users could move to a faster plan (VDSL, fibre)

  • Dunedin has an average broadband speed of 107Mbit/s. Dunedin has nearly 4000 1Gigabit/s connections. That's 4000 connections across a smaller number of premises. For example, there could be two businesses with a connection in one building. Still that's impressive (and more impressive than 4000 users sharing a small number of connections, which is what I initially suspected).

Now imagine how those numbers could high even higher once Chorus resolves its installation issues. But with UFB demand finally reaching a tipping point (there were 17,000 connection requests in February vs 9000 in November), wait times could get worse before they get better.

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