Are Video Streaming Services Eating Up All the Bandwidth?

As more users cut the cord, and the overall user base of the Internet expands, it will soon be impossible to ignore the demand for better bandwidth.

video streaming

According to new figures from Sandvine, the Internet is becoming increasingly dominated by video streaming services. Netflix accounts for nearly 35 percent of downstream traffic, YouTube accounts for almost 14 percent, while HTTP website traffic only accounted for about 12 percent of all downstream traffic. Twitch, the video game streaming service, is making remarkable gains.

The dominant thinking is that streaming services like Netflix and YouTube are putting strain on the infrastructure of the Internet, but it’s more likely that they’re the primary reason for expanding bandwidth. Consumers have gotten a taste of unlimited streaming, and the demand for more HD streaming is becoming a primary driver behind Internet use.

Sandvine defined three categories of modern Internet users: the Cord Cutter, the Typical Subscriber and the Non-Streamer. Cord cutters have a mean monthly usage of 212 GB of data compared to a typical subscribers’ 29 GB and 4.5 GB for the non-streamers.

More striking is the amount of traffic each of these groups command. Cord cutters account for more than 50 percent of the traffic share. Typical subscribers account for just over 45 percent, and non-streamers take up just 0.5 percent of all traffic. With numbers like that, it’s clear that high-intensity Internet users are shaping the future of the source of their entertainment.

Viewers who are more connected to their entertainment are also making big impacts. Twitch has 45 million monthly users, a group that accounts for 1.35 percent of downstream traffic — triple its representation last fall, according to Variety. For comparison, HBO Go only accounts for 1.24 percent of downstream traffic, so homemade media can indeed trump slick production.

The nature of the Internet is changing. Most websites and services don’t require a lot of bandwidth, according to Sandvine’s data. Despite its size, Facebook only accounts for 2.17 percent of upstream data and less than two percent of downstream data.

Indeed, users are relying more on the Internet for streaming. As more users cut the cord, and the overall user base of the Internet expands, it will soon be impossible to ignore the demand for better bandwidth.