A research brief issued this month by USTelecom reveals that the broadband industry spent nearly $66 billion on the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure in 2011, a figure roughly equal to the 2010 investment. USTelecom is a broadband trade association representing telecom industry service providers and suppliers.

Of this $66 billion, wireline represented the largest portion of capital at $27 billion (41 percent). Investments in wireless infrastructure were not far behind, at $26 billion (40 percent). The remaining capital, roughly $13 billion, was invested in cable infrastructure. The research brief aggregates data on private broadband investment since 1996, revealing a total spend between 1996 and 2011 of approximately $1.2 trillion.

Noting that the largest driver of increased bandwidth demand is consumer video, the research brief also quantifies the upward trend in the volume of data traffic over the last several years. While networks carried the equivalent of 8.3 million DVDs per month in 2000, that figure jumped to the equivalent of 1.4 billion DVDs per month in 2010. Not surprisingly, experts predict that U.S. data traffic will continue to experience dramatic increases, tripling in the next five years.

View this video from U.S. Telecom for more information on how data travels over fixed networks.

According to the research, much progress has been made in recent years in providing consumers more broadband choices. Fully 96 percent of Americans now have a choice of multiple broadband providers.

This new data comes as the FCC and federal government are trying to implement the president’s National Broadband Plan, which aims by 2015 to have 100 million U.S. homes with affordable access to download speeds of 50 Mbps — megabits per second. The average download speed in the U.S. currently is about 6 Mbps.