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Netflix Is Chewing Up Less Bandwidth, But Still Takes Huge Bite

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Wednesday, 22 Jun 2016 09:25 AM

Netflix remains the biggest road hog on broadband highways -- but its overall share of peak-period Internet traffic actually declined slightly over the past six months in North America.

The world's No. 1 streaming-video service represented 35.2% of downstream traffic on North America fixed networks in March 2016 during primetime hours, according to a study by network-equipment provider Sandvine. That's compared with 37.1% six months ago, and down from 36.5% a year ago.

However, that doesn't necessarily mean people are streaming less Netflix video. The decline in traffic share, according to Sandvine's analysis, most likely stems from the company's recent improvements in video-encoding efficiency.

Last December, Netflix detailed changes in its video-encoding schemes, which the company said could reduce bit rates by up to 20% while delivering equivalent quality.

YouTube continued to hold second place on Sandvine's report, representing 17.5% share of bandwidth consumed during peak periods, followed by Amazon Video at 4.3% -- which made significant gains, up from 2% a year ago. Like Netflix, Amazon made optimizations to its video compression in early 2016. Web-browser traffic held 4.2% share, followed by iTunes with 2.9% and Hulu with 2.7%.

Meanwhile, Dish Network's Sling TV now appears among the top 20 applications on most U.S. broadband networks, but it still accounts for less than 1% of peak-period traffic, according to Sandvine. The company defines "peak period" as 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Overall, streaming audio and video now accounts for 71% of primetime traffic across North American fixed-access broadband networks -- and is expected to increase to 80% by 2020, per Sandvine. The data for Sandvine's latest report was collected from multiple Internet service providers in March 2016.

BitTorrent, which in 2008 represented 31% of total Internet traffic, continues to shrink as a percentage of overall bandwidth usage. In March, the file-sharing app accounted for 2.9% of total peak-period traffic (both upstream and downstream) in North America, according to Sandvine, and 5% of total traffic during the day. Storage applications like Dropbox, Apple's iCloud and Google Drive have surpassed BitTorrent in upstream traffic on fixed networks.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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Netflix remains the biggest road hog on broadband highways -- but its overall share of peak-period Internet traffic actually declined slightly over the past six months in North America. The world's No. 1 streaming-video service represented 35.2% of downstream traffic on...
netflix, bandwidth, internet, streaming
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2016-25-22
Wednesday, 22 Jun 2016 09:25 AM
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