Netflix: Number One In Bandwidth

written by Harry - Leave a reply

5/17/2011 – Want to know what is currently hogging all the bandwidth in North America? Well, now you do, it’s people watching Netflix.

A report released today by internet equipment manufacturer, Sandvine, identifies the Californian-based company as the single biggest source of bandwidth consumption in the United States. The study, conducted amongst a section of unidentified consumers, shows that Netflix now accounts for more than 24% of all Internet traffic in this country. It is credited to the growing popularity of the company’s online movie and TV show streaming service.

Other major sources of traffic were revealed to be BitTorrent’s (illegal file downloading) at 17%, standard web browsing at 17% and YouTube at 10%. Facebook drives only 2% of internet traffic but this is due to the relatively low bandwidth demands needed to run it.

Sandvine’s report also highlights the continued growth of Netflix itself. Last fall it was responsible for 21 % of all downstream traffic during peak hours. Now, it it is responsible for almost 30%. That is a massive increase in only a limited period of time but it can be attributed to the 7 million subscribers Netflix added in the period between measurements and the influx of new and exclusive content. It is also being reported that the ‘average subscriber’ streams a gigabyte’s worth of content every day.

At the end of March, Netflix subscribers stood at 23.6 million and it has added a considerable number since thanks to high-profile content deals promoted in the media. A recent deal with Miramax Studios allowing its films to be accessed via Instant Watch and the exclusive rights to Kevin Spacey’s “House of Cards” shows that the company is not slowing up yet. They’re investing like there’s no tomorrow in a bid to starve off competition from companies like Hulu and Blockbuster Online – which, with it’s more significant studio licenses, will be a major threat once it’s released.

In light of this new data, it presents a question to the internet service providers of America. With more and more bandwidth being consumed everyday, how does one manage the newly proposed, and in some cases already implemented, data cap system? Netflix is saying that they are already working on technology to allow multiple streaming under one account and this could result in another significant jump in bandwidth consumption.

The issue is one of consumer satisfaction. People may not currently be aware of the capped system implemented under their existing broadband contract, but they soon will. Repeated overages will result in additional charges with many people forced to pay significantly more on top of their existing subscription fees. And with more and more bandwidth intensive internet activities unknowingly being consumed everyday, it could get messy.

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