Highlights from GammaWire 2023 state of home internet:
- Home internet usage continues to spike, with 2022 average home broadband usage topping 500GB monthly in H2 2022, a 23%+ increase from 2020.
- “Mega users” (those who use more than 5TB of data a month) also continued to increase, with almost 8% of households topping a number once viewed as absurd.
- While virtual meetings continue to see slight declines, gaming and video streaming continued to grow at a rapid clip.
Average home internet usage statistics
The internet is a necessity, and with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have become even more reliant on it at home with more demands on data. The pandemic has resulted in a significant shift in how people work, communicate, and entertain themselves, resulting in an increase in home internet usage. With many people forced to work remotely and spend more time at home, internet data usage has reached an all-time high in the United States.
Our GammaWire state of the internet 2023 study, tracking home broadband usage, the average US household uses 505 gigabytes (GB) of data per month on average. This is a 23% increase compared to the same period in 2020 at the start of the pandemic. Moreover, our study also found that almost 8% of households used an average of 5.5 terabytes (TB) of data per month, a 35% increase from the previous year.
The increase in home internet usage at the start of the pandemic was due to many factors, including the shift to remote work, online education, and increased streaming and gaming. As more people were required to work and study from home, internet usage skyrocketed, and internet service providers had to adjust to the increased demand. For instance, video conferencing services like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet saw a massive surge in usage, resulting in increased bandwidth demands on networks. According to Statista, the number of daily Zoom meeting participants increased from 10 million in December 2019 to over 300 million in April 2020, a large contributor to increased data usage.
Internet usage at home still increasing despite return to office/school
However, even as the world slowly returns to normalcy, home internet data usage has not dropped at all. In fact, according to our study, internet service providers are still struggling to keep up with demand. Our report indicates that internet usage is up 20-50% compared to pre-pandemic levels, with many people still working and studying from home.
One reason why home internet usage continues to remain high is due to permanent trends in media consumption. Even before the pandemic, people were increasingly relying on the internet for entertainment. Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have become more popular, and online gaming has become a multi-billion dollar industry. The pandemic has only accelerated these trends, with people turning to the internet for more of their entertainment needs. The entertainment has responded accordingly, with more major pictures and TV shows being pushed heavily on SVOD services, creating user behavior that no longer requires external consumption (movie theaters, traditional cable).
What uses the most internet data at home?
According to a report by Deloitte, the average American household subscribes to four streaming services, and 80% of people stream video content at least once a week. Moreover, with the release of new gaming consoles and the popularity of online gaming, the gaming industry has experienced significant growth. According to a report by Newzoo, a market research firm, the global gaming industry generated $174.9 billion in revenue in 2020, a 19.6% increase from the previous year. With digital games being anywhere from 1GB to 100GB, it doesn’t take many downloads to reach the household broadband usage numbers seen above.
Another trend that has contributed to the increase in home internet usage is the rise of online video content, particularly on platforms like YouTube. According to a report by Pew Research Center, 81% of US adults use YouTube, and 72% of these users claim to use it for entertainment. Moreover, the report revealed that YouTube is more popular among younger adults, with 95% of those aged 18-29 using the platform. With the rise of YouTube and other online video platforms, people are spending more time watching videos online, which has resulted in increased internet usage.
In conclusion, home internet data usage in the US is at an all-time high, and the pandemic has only accelerated this trend. While the shift to remote work and online education played a significant role in the increase in internet usage, permanent trends like increased media consumption and online gaming have also contributed. As more people return to the office and schools reopen, it remains to be seen if this will be a forever trend, but there is no data to suggest otherwise.