Does Europe Have Enough Bandwidth to Handle the Netflix Strain?

Some speculate low speeds could hobble rollout

It's been established that the French in particular are skeptical about Netflix's upcoming continental rollout. But will French cinephiles even be able to stream their favorite Louis Malle films once the service shows up?

Doubters worry that Netflix video traffic will crash European servers, especially in France and Germany, where Netflix plans to begin offering streaming video this month.

According to Ookla’s Net Index, neither country is among the top 20 with the fastest download speeds. That concerns the head of media services for Deloitte LLP, who recently speculated that European networks “could be forced to their knees” by Netflix bandwidth requirements.

A spokesman for Netflix in Europe told Bloomberg that countries where it currently operates, including the U.K. and the Netherlands, have never experienced “noticeable” problems with video traffic. And it's beefing up server capacity in Paris to prevent disrupted service. 

Netflix has a particular interest in streaming its content in Germany, which has a big appetite for video on demand. Deloitte predicts the German market will grow 20 percent a year for the foreseeable future.

In the U.S., the company is reportedly paying Verizon and Comcast to gain better access to their digital pipelines. And in Europe, providers of music and streaming video are working on better file compression to free up bandwidth for companies like Netflix.