Netflix becomes biggest source of internet traffic

Video streaming company Netflix is now the biggest single source of internet traffic, accounting for well over a quarter of all bandwidth.

According to broadband company Sandvine, it now accounts for 29.7 percent of peak downstream traffic, and is the largest source of internet traffic overall. 

And you can’t just put that down to the larger size of video files, as Netflix easily outpaces YouTube.

“The dramatic growth of Netflix and its impending global expansion are prime examples of a growing appetite for real-time entertainment,” says Sandvine president and CEO Dave Caputo.

Currently, real-time entertainment applications consume 49.2 percent of peak aggregate traffic – up from 29.5 percent in 2009. And the company forecasts that the category will account for as much as 60 percent of peak aggregate traffic by the end of this year.

And in Europe, the figure’s even higher. Overall, individual subscribers in Europe consume twice the amount of data as North Americans.

And real-time entertainment represents 33.2 percent of peak aggregate traffic in the region. Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing protocol BitTorrent is the largest single component of both upstream and downstream internet traffic during peak periods, at 59.7 percent and 21.6 percent respectively. In the UK, the BBC’s iPlayer service provides 6.6 percent of peak downstream traffic.

Caputo says he expects the trend to continue.

“The information and trends in Sandvine’s Spring 2011 Global Internet Phenomena Report, emphasize the need for innovative solutions to keep up with rapidly evolving consumer demands for content and connectivity,” he says.

The report also provides a welcome piece of evidence for service providers keen to move to usage-based billing. Ho hum.