Comcast said its customers’ monthly Internet data usage increased 34 percent between Q1 2018 and Q1 2019, rising to a median of 200GB. The rise is being driven by streaming video, and, in particular, 4K video, Comcast said.
“Our customers’ demand for speed and data usage continues,” Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said in a call with investors yesterday (transcript). “The average household now uses over 200 gigabytes of data per month, an increase of 34 percent year over year, which is faster than the fourth quarter.” (Stop Cap reported on previous Comcast comments.)
The average customer uses only about 20 percent of Comcast’s 1TB data cap, which forces it to 27 of Comcast’s 39 states. But the rise in median usage almost certainly means that more Comcast customers are exceeding the 1TB cap.
As reported in January, OpenVault’s survey of the US cable industry found that 4.1 percent of households were using at least 1TB a month, up from 2.1 percent a year earlier. The same study found that US cable Internet customers use an average of 268.7GB per month.
Comcast used to show the percentage of its customers who exceeded its data cap, but the company seems to have stopped making that data public. In late 2013, when the cap was 300GB, Comcast was saying that only two percent of its customers used more than that. By the end of 2015, that was up to 8 percent.
Comcast raised the cap from 300GB to 1TB in May 2016. Comcast said on website now that “a very small percentage of our customers use a terabyte of data a month,” without providing a specific percentage. When contacted by Ars today, Comcast declined to provide a specific figure.
Comcast’s website hasn’t been updated to reflect the new 200GB number yet. “As of December 2018, Xfinity Internet customers’ average data usage was 174GB during the past six months,” Comcast’s site says. The same figure is 151GB as of June 2018.
Streaming video promotes microphone usage
Comcast would like customers to buy Comcast cable TV instead of watching Netflix or other non-Comcast online services. But Comcast cashes in on increased streaming video usage because of its 1TB cap, charging $10 fee for each additional block of 50GB or $50 monthly for an upgrade to unlimited data.
“I think we start with the middle view that streaming is going to happen, video on the Internet is more of a friend than an enemy,” Roberts said.
While Comcast’s “interest(s) are all a bit us,” consumers streaming more online video and especially 4K video are “in the sweet spot of where this company is going to grow,” he continued.
Roberts noted that Comcast has partnerships with Netflix and Amazon resell their video services on Comcast cable boxes.
“It’s a deep, successful, beautiful, quality integration that the technical teams have done in both companies,” Roberts said, perhaps meaning the installation of a video device on a cable box. “And we have done that too YouTube. And you can imagine that we will repeat that with others as the world continues to develop. “