New Viewing Habits Pushing Bandwidth

According to a study from the Fiber to the Home (FTTH) Council Americas, the trend toward obtaining video and audio content via the Internet, and bypassing programming offered by traditional cable and satellite providers, is advancing more quickly than previously believed because of a sea-change in the viewing habits of younger consumers.

The Council noted that this trend will further accelerate demands for more bandwidth and faster connectivity in North American households, pushed by wider availability of Internet-connected televisions, growth in the number of simultaneous video streams per household and the development of more robust streaming standards to support high quality HD and super HD video.

Based on its survey of subscribers to fixed broadband services, cable, and DSL, the study estimates that 40% are accessing at least some video programming through so-called “over-the-top” video services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and iTunes, as well as through a variety of applications for mobile devices through the Internet.  However, for those who are under age 35, the figure jumps to almost 70%.

Broadband Subscribers’ TV and Movie Sources (% Share Among US and Canadian Broadband Subscribers, August 2013)


% of Segment


All Ages

Under Age 35

Traditional TV



OTT light (1-32.9%)



OTT medium (33-65.9%)



OTT heavy (66-99.9%)



OTT only



Source: FTTH, August 2013; (“Over-The-Top” video services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and iTunes, etc.)

FTTH Council President, Heather Burnett Gold, says “… a fast-growing number of people look to the Internet to get the video programming they want… when and where they want it… survey shows that the trend is… a home-based phenomenon… televisions, tablets, smart-phones, etc… drawing broadband signal from a household wi-fi router… served by a wireline connection…”

One-third of survey respondents said they own both a smart-phone and a tablet device, and members of that group reported that they are using at least one of those devices during almost half the time they are watching television. More than 80% of these heavy users of mobile devices say they connect them to their broadband service via wi-fi when they are using them at home.  The survey showed that the average broadband-connected household currently has five Internet-connected devices.

Gold  continues  “… about more than bandwidth… about having unwavering speed and a noise-free network… services and applications play flawlessly… without hesitation or buffering… “ 

In a recent study, Conviva analyzed 22.6 billion streams from some of the largest content owners on the web, showing that 60% of the streams suffered from some quality degradation leading to re-buffering, slow start up or poor picture quality. And:

  • More than 12% of under-35 broadband users identified themselves as getting all of their television/movie programming through the Internet and not accessing broadcast or cable programming at all 
  • About half of the people in this group have never purchased programming from a cable or satellite television provider 
  • Across all age categories, about 5% of broadband consumers are now receiving all of their programming from the Internet

Gold concludes that “… accelerating demand for sharper video… uninterrupted streaming… faster downloads… (indicates that) North America will… need the unparalleled bandwidth and super-fast connectivity that fiber to the home networks deliver… “
Respondents were asked to test the bandwidth they are currently receiving via and report their findings.  The results showed a growing gap between households connected with fiber to the home services and those relying on other access technologies such as cable modem and DSL. 

  • Respondents reported an average of 23.9 megabits per second (mbps) download speeds and 14.2 mbps connectivity for uploading information, well ahead of the average 15mbps/2.8mbps that cable customers are receiving and 4.6mpbs/0.7mbps for DSL households

More about the Fiber to the Home Council Americas may be found here, and additional information from the report here.




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