The average Charter Communications broadband-only customer is now using 700 gigabytes of data per month, according to Christopher Winfrey, the cable operator’s CFO.
Winfrey disclosed the rather shocking figure Monday while speaking at the virtual Deutsche Bank Media, Internet & Telecom Conference. The release of the data point comes after OpenVault, a company that consults cable operators on network strategy and operations, said that total average usage could reach 650 gigs by the end of the year.
Average usage was 339 gigs in January 2020, right before the pandemic began. At the current rate of expansion, a large number of U.S. wireline broadband users could soon start bumping their heads on usage caps.
For its part, Comcast, the biggest supplier of high-speed internet in the U.S., has delayed deployment of a 1.2 GB monthly data usage limit. But the operator did say that it will institute usage-based pricing starting next year.
For his part, Winfrey said the high level of wireline broadband usage is the No. 1 reason wireless companies won’t be able to pry broadband marketshare from cable with fixed wireless products.
“The average wireless customers uses only 10 gigs a month,” Winfrey said. “The difference in utilization rates is significant. I don’t think that current wireless networks are designed to handle that kind of traffic.”
Cable operators currently control about 70% of the U.S. wireline broadband market.
Winfrey, meanwhile, was also asked about Charter’s commitment to the video business, given that the operator was the only big U.S. cable company to add TV customers in 2020.
Charter was able to add 56,000 linear customers simply because it grew its broadband business by an astronomical 2.215 million subscribers in a pandemic year.
“I don’t think it’s sustainable to add video subscribers absent of the unique conditions we saw last year,” Winfrey said.
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