There’s been a lot of buzz lately about the emergence of home broadband plans offering a terabyte of data, with a flurry of internet providers getting in on the act. Competition has even reached the point where a certain provider launched a 1.1 terabyte plan to one-up its rivals.

A terabyte is a lot of data. One provider claimed it’s enough to download about 200 DVD quality movies and still have quota left over. Whilst my inner geek is salivating at the possibilities, the analyst in me is questioning just how many people currently need, or could even use, a terabyte of data each and every month.

Now before someone claims I’m just making excuses for the lack of a terabyte plan in the BigPond broadband offering, take a moment to hear me out.

A quick calculation using the latest ABS statistics (June 2010) shows fixed-line broadband users average under ten gigabytes a month. A one terabyte plan is therefore about a hundred times bigger than what a typical fixed-line user currently consumes. Even for users who need three or four times this “average” usage, there’s a fairly wide selection of plans being offered already, including BigPond’s 50GB plan.

Of course your mileage may vary, and I expect a quick search of the forums at Whirlpool will turn up people who are getting their full terabytes worth. But I reckon Exetel’s John Linton might be pretty close to the mark when he claims these plans are mostly about creating headlines and that the proportion of users consistently consuming a terabyte will be quite low.

Terabyte plans will have appeal to a special niche and demand for these plans will no doubt grow over time. But for now my advice to most people would be to look past the attention grabbing headline, check how big a plan you really need and keep in mind all the other things that go in to making a great ISP.

How much of your current plan do you actually use? Who is the biggest broadband user in your home? How does your household manage its broadband allowance?