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US Broadband Households Shift Into Higher Gear In H1'20, 1-Gig Adoption Soars

U.S. households felt the need for broadband speed amid COVID-19-related confinement measures in the first half of 2020, resulting in a 5.5% jump in residential wireline subscribers taking 100Mbps or higher compared to year-end 2019.

As of June 30, we estimate that 78.4% of residential wireline subscribers took download speeds of 100Mbps and above. With speed and bandwidth at the forefront of consumers' minds, the 1Gbps tier logged the largest increase.

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Subscribers taking 1 Gig or higher rose to an estimated 7.8% of the residential broadband universe in the second quarter of 2020, up from 4.3% at year-end 2019.

The under 25 Mbps tier fell to 2.7% of wireline broadband households or 2.8 million subscribers for whom slower speeds likely impeded in-home online activities, including entertainment, during the pandemic.

The telco sector, still somewhat held back by legacy copper systems, accounted for the vast majority of the lower end speed category, with an estimated 87.2% of all wireline broadband subscribers in the below 25 Mbps category.

For perspective, Netflix recommends a minimum download speed of 3 Mbps for standard streaming and 25 Mbps for ultra-high definition quality.

The consumer desire for higher speeds and bandwidth was amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic and measures to slow the spread of the virus during the interval under review as work, education and entertainment were restricted to the home for the better part of the first half of 2020.

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