Movie and TV streaming dominates Internet traffic; ISPs face costly upgrades

“Movie and TV streaming site Netflix is now the single biggest source of internet traffic in the US, according to research,” BBC News reports.

“The data, gathered by network monitoring firm Sandvine, showed that in March the site accounted for 29.7% of downstream traffic at peak times,” The Beeb reports. “That is more than web browsing and peer-to-peer file sharing… Even at off peak times Netflix accounted for a 22% average traffic share over a 24 hour period.”

The Beeb reports, “Experts warned that as the trend grows, internet service providers will face costly upgrades to satisfy demand.”

“In Europe, such streaming accounts for 33.2% of internet traffic, a percentage which has been rising for the past three years,” The Beeb reports. “Netflix is not available in the UK, but Sandvine said that the BBC iPlayer – the biggest streamer of commercial content in the UK – has a 6.6% share of peak traffic.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Welcome to Cap City, where dough for downloads is the name of the game!

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “DogGoneToo” for the heads up.]


  1. Maybe Netflix isn’t such a good deal. Up in the great white north we have fast Internet in the cities but not so much in the smaller areas. Where I live I get 5mbits down and .7 up. With someone in the house using Netflix and another surfing it bring everything to a crawl. Can’t use FaceTime or skype when Netflix is in use. And now they will want more cash. This sucks

      1. Since when was better technology cheaper in the past? Do you have examples?

        In case it isn’t obvious, it isn’t just a perception that most things tech-related get better and cheaper all the time – they do. Therefore, it should also be no surprise that most things tech-related were generally more expensive and not as good in the past.


      2. More like blame your isp for overselling and under-delivering for years. Blame your ISP for taking profits when they should have be re-investing in the network.

        It’s not like streaming just snuck up on them. It’s been growing for years.

        This is simply propaganda to sway opinion before they raise rates, all a ploy to take more of our money.

      1. Ummm… Check the numbers again, tessellator… Those charts you linked to indicate the HD stream burning somewhere in the 3.5-5.5mbps ballpark, and bursts over 10mbps… Which is about what I’d expect. That will completely saturate a typical 5mbps pipe like CanadianThomas says he has and ruin QoS for everybody else in the house – even if the ISP isn’t over-rating it.

        1. Yeah, I should have been clearer I was saying 1GB/ hour (not per second) it is buffered so peaks shouldn’t matter.
          I don’t think that should totally saturate a 5Mbps pipe (should be able to pull around double that through a 5Mbps pipe)

          CanadianThomas, check you bandwidth I’ll bet you are only sustaining but about half of the claimed 5Mb/s

        2. OK… But, I still say a Netflix HD stream is going to thrash a 5mbps pipe pretty hard… When the average stream’s bandwidth is between 3.5 and 5.5mbps, then you’re going to average between 1.5mpbs and zero available bandwidth for other traffic.

          From personal experience, even my 20mbps cable connection (which is usually running about 10-15 mbps of actual bandwidth) gets pretty slow for other traffic when we’re streaming Netflix HD… So, in reality, a 5mbps connection isn’t going to be good for much else while a Netflix HD stream is running on it.

          Just sayin’. 😉

  2. A answer would be to let more people provide land lines. Telcos and cable have exclusive agreements with local governments. If more people got in the game then there would be more bandwidth.

      1. not necessarily, just because some bigger company offers to buy yours doesn’t mean you have to sell it.
        an example would be the “itv” over in Briton.

  3. Internet service providers are in most cases cable providers. As they are now able to stream hundreds of channels and most people are bailing on cable packages, doesn’t this just balance out?

  4. Yet the Telcos oppose any community or community utility’s efforts to build out fiber to the home. In some states their lobbyists have succeeded in getting it put into law.
    A small city in Louisiana held a public referendum to issue bonds and and let the city owned utility build a community ISP with fiber to the home & business because no telco or cable company thought it worth their time. The people overwhelmingly voted to do it. The cable & telcos blocked it in court and through state government.
    Texas and North Carolina have enacted or are in the process of doing something similar. This is not free market-it crony capitalism. The cable/telco ISP’s knew/know that nobody would buy their bundled & marked up shut with a great option.
    Welcome to the United States of Corporatism.

    1. Actually the town, Lafayette, LA, prevailed in court, but not until after a lengthy court battle. But your point is valid.

      At some point the nation must recognize internet access as infrastructure, just like roads. We would not tolerate every road being a toll road, and should not accept internet access being controlled by private interests, either.

  5. My Time Warner cable cable Internet connection is bad. It hangs up constantly for a minute or more then goes back to a measured speed of 10-15 MBs. Clearly there’s a capacity problem here. Many others have the same problem and things will only get worse going forward. Most companies are so fixated on the next quarters earnings they have little motivation to reinvest those earnings in their infrastructure and our government has squandered resources that could have been used for this on our perpetual war with Eurasia.

  6. What amazes me is that Netflix can deliver 25% of all us traffic. Their bandwidth must be huge.
    What also worries me is that the providers will limit bandwidth for video delivery essentially making it useless.
    Netflix is such a good deal at the moment and I use it a lot.

  7. No comment from me about this topic as I agree in general with what most are saying.

    As an aside, has anyone else visiting MDN lately and using Safari noticed an increase in appearances of the “spinning pizza wheel” or had more notices pop up about a plug-in failure (Flash I presume)? It’s causing articles to take a long time loading and making the experience here a bit aggravating.

    I notice the same issue on another website yesterday. The common factor was an one of those vertical ads on the right side of a page. It was for and was identical on both sites. Except for saying and Amazing Deals Everyday at the very top and Always $2.99 Shipping at the very bottom, the rest of the ad is empty.

    1. Go to or just Google “clicktoflash” and install it. Once installed, I think you’ll find that the vast majority of Safari’s instability is due entirely to the Flash plugin. Install ClickToFlash and improve your surfing experience significantly.

      Yes, I’m a Flash developer and designer and yes, I hate Flash. I’m so ready to move on.

  8. Rather than the ISPs capping bandwidth, this (in theory) should motivate them to develop faster and more efficient encoding technology. But I suppose it’s just too damn easy to cap and/or charge more.

  9. Unless the US installs fibre to the node, Netflix is doomed – there is insufficient capacity in the existing copper wire networks to support continued growth in high bandwidth applications like Netflix. Wireless, as we know, is already bumping its limits. As demand for bandwidth increases, prices will rise and network operators will charge for usage, like they do everywhere else in the world. Americans are living in dreamworld if they think HD movie downloads and HD television will be available everywhere, for everyone… Australia is now installing fibre to the node across Australia. Its expensive and the government is taking a lot of criticism for it – but there is no other option if you want high bandwidth access for everyone…

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