Downstream to Hold Traffic Title: Study

Thanks to the continued surge of Internetdelivered video applications and services, the demand on broadband downstream links will outpace upload requirements by an 8:1 ratio by 2020, according to a study commissioned by Cable Europe and NL Kabel.

The study, undertaken by the Technical University of Eindhoven and Dutch consultancy firm Dialogic, predicts that “sufficient” subscription speeds for the average broadband user will rise to 165 Megabits per second in the downstream, versus 20 Mbps in the upstream, by the end of the decade. By way of comparison, the average sufficient provisioned speeds were roughly 15.3 Mbps downstream and about 1.6 Mbps upstream in 2013, according to the study.

The study tabulates those averages based on the usage characteristics of four groups: “power users,” “innovators,” “mainstream users” and “laggards.” Among them, power users, who account for about 2% of the broadband subscriber base, in 2013 required average provisioned speeds of 142 Mbps down by 29.2 Mbps up. By 2020 those figures are expected to hit 1.1 Gigabits per second down by 314 Mbps up.

The surge in demand will be driven by a broad range of emerging highbandwidth services and apps, including Ultra HD/4K video, remote backup storage and data recovery, according to the study. While backup services will tax the upstream, video will gobble up more than its fair share of the downstream.

The industry’s current broadband technology roadmap puts MSOs in good shape to keep pace with the demands envisioned by 2020, Cable Europe said. While state-of-the-art DOCSIS 3.0 equipment can bond enough channels to support downstream bursts of more than 1 Gigabit per second, the coming DOCSIS 3.1 platform is targeting capacities of as much as 10 Gbps downstream and 2 Gbps upstream.

“The trend in consumer behavior which lies behind these figures speaks for itself. Customers consume much more content than they produce,” Caroline van Weede, managing director of Cable Europe, said in a statement. “We’re future-proofed for the fastest connections and the most sophisticated applications,” she added, citing the speeds targeted by DOCSIS 3.1.