NBN data usage continues to soar

4K video to help drive demand for higher-speed NBN plans, company says

The average household connected to the National Broadband Network is churning through 148 gigabytes of data every month, according to NBN.

The figure represents a 32 per cent increase compared to 2016, the company said. A key driver for increasing data consumption has been the growth in the popularity of over the top (OTT) video streaming services, Sarah Palmer, NBN’s executive general manager, product and pricing, yesterday told the OTT Summit in Sydney.

Prior to the March 2015 launch of Netflix in Australia, the average household connected to the network was downloading 73 gigabytes per month. The launch of Netflix saw average downloads grow by 15GB in the space of a month — the biggest spike in traffic that the network has seen so far.

“It was kind of astounding and it was stark,” Palmer said. “We had usage rise 22 per cent in a single month.”

The rollout of the NBN is providing a “relatively small nation” with an “enormous addressable market” for content providers, Palmer told the summit.

NBN used the summit to release figures from the Ovum OTT Video Forecast. Ovum is predicting that by 2022, 7 million Australian households will have subscription video on demand services (SVOD) — up from the current figure of 2.6 million.

SVOD revenue in Australia will grow from $460 million in 2016 to $1 billion by 2022, the analyst firm is forecasting.

“In March 2015 when Netflix appeared… the conversation about speed went away and the conversation about data downloads got elevated quite dramatically,” Palmer said.

However, the combination of the growth in popularity of SVOD, the emergence of 4K video services, and the use of multiple devices in a single household to stream video could help drive increased uptake of higher speed NBN plans, Palmer said.

Although some part of the NBN access network are theoretically capable of reaching 1 gigabit per second speeds, no retail service providers currently offer gigabit NBN plans. At the end of 2015, more than half of the NBN end users had 25/5 megabits per second plans — only 13 per cent had the top 100/40Mbps speed tier currently offered by RSPs.

NBN CEO Bill Morrow last week told a Senate Estimates hearing that the company has “found many cases where end users were not aware that they actually had a speed choice” when signing up for a National Broadband Network connection through an RSP. “They just thought it was superfast broadband,” the CEO said.

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