Report: Netflix is the Largest Source of Internet Traffic?

By Kenna McHugh Comment

You may be surprised by Sandvine’s report that Netflix streaming video is responsible for more peak-hour Internet traffic arriving into homes in the US and Canada than any other source. The streaming video is now responsible for nearly 30 percent of all peak downstream traffic, a nice increase from last year’s 21 percent.

You may be asking yourself I thought YouTube was the all time video streamer. What’s up? Actually, other video services are responsible for only a small percentage of Netflix’s total traffic. At one time, YouTube was the highest downstream traffic sender, but that has change. The Google owned web video service only accounts for 11 percent of peak downstream traffic. Hulu is just 1 percent.

Interestingly, just one quarter of homes with a broadband Internet connection subscribe to Netflix, but those subscribers use more data by watching movies and television shows than all Internet users in North America, who just browse, email and social network.

The only single activity that even comes close to Netflix’s data usage is peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing. P2P accounts for about 11 percent of peak downstream traffic. In 2010, both Web surfing and P2P file transfers were responsible for more traffic than Netflix.

Netflix’s growth is at 23.6 million subscribers in the US. Netflix’s $8 per month streaming-only service has taken over company’s original business staple of mail-order DVD rentals as its leading focus.

Another issue has flared up over Netflix’s broadband usage. The debate about usage-based pricing by Internet service providers has already begun to spread in the US.

Recently, AT&T implemented a 150GB per month data ceiling on all landline DSL users. Also, U-Verse broadband customers will be limited to 250GB. Customers will be charged $10 for each 50GB used beyond the ceiling. Comcast also has a 250GB cap for its broadband customers.

That means a single Netflix movie, streaming in high-definition, typically uses about 3,600MB while a standard-def movie is around 500 to 700MB. Therefore, with the 250GB data ceiling, users could stream roughly 40 HD movies per month; if that is all they do and nothing else like email, social network and browse.