RLECs equate broadband growth to streaming media demand

by Barbara Vrahnos, project manager - Access Technology Planning

Our informal discussions over the past several months with rural local exchange carriers indicate there are increases in the amount and changes in the type of broadband traffic traversing their networks. RLECs believe streaming media is the primary cause of changes in traffic loads, while gaming, business-to-business online transactions and social media are all secondary.

High number tells the tale

Previously, data flowed to and from the customer sporadically, since data was only transmitted when the customer was active. This required only a fraction of the bandwidth available.

Now rural carriers estimate streaming media comprises 70 percent of daily broadband traffic in their networks. They point to multiple users within a household receiving or sending media for significant periods of time simultaneously, thus requiring a continuous flow of data. Their customers now not only require higher speeds, but available bandwidth at a much higher percentage for longer periods. 

Customer appetites for interruption-free streaming media have resulted in RLECs investing in network upgrades that surpass those made in the past to evolve from plain old telephone service to a high-speed broadband environment. Network investments to support streaming media and meet broadband traffic growth include more fiber facilities, core network routers and access platforms.

Satisfying demand at a cost

The pressure is on RLECs to invest in network upgrades to ensure enough bandwidth is available to allow their customers to watch the latest shows at their convenience. As the demand grows, the RLEC struggles continue. How can they keep streaming media flowing without raising customer fees? We continue to discuss, investigate and study in partnership with RLECs to identify possible solutions to this challenge. 

Filed under February 2019 , Tagged with Broadband, Technology

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