Netflix: Bandwidth Glutton

Netflix now chews up more bits than BitTorrent.

In North America, Netflix streaming video accounts for 29.7% of peak downstream
Internet traffic and has become the largest source of Internet traffic
overall, according to a survey of service providers by bandwidth-management
equipment vendor Sandvine.

Overall, as an average
over a 24-hour period,
Netflix now represents
22.2% of Internet traffic, which means the video
service has overtaken
BitTorrent (which is 21.6%
of all traffic) as the largest
component of Internet
traffic on North America’s
fixed-access networks.

As of March 2011,
real-time entertainment
applications — which
largely comprise Netflix’s
streaming video — consumed
49.2% of peak aggregate
traffic in North
America, up from 42.7%
last year and 29.5% in
2009. If that rate of growth
is sustained, real-time
entertainment will make
up 55% to 60% of traffic
by the end of this year,
Sandvine said.

Last October, Sandvine
estimated that Netflix
accounted for at least 20%
of downstream peak traffic in the U.S. Since then,
Netflix’s business has
surged: As of the end of
March, it had 23.6 million
subscribers in the U.S.
and Canada, having added
a net 6.67 million in the
previous six months.

The Netflix service lets users watch more than 20,000 titles, streamed over
the Internet to more than 200 different devices. Last week, Netflix announced a
pact with movie studio Miramax, which was divested last year by The Walt Disney
Co., to provide hundreds of library titles to U.S. subscribers starting in June.

Peer-to-peer file-sharing applications
still have a significant
share of total broadband usage,
according to Sandvine — and
BitTorrent still accounts for 52%
of all upstream traffic consumed
during peak periods.