Thursday, November 18, 2010

Netflix is Swallowing all of America's Bandwidth

It's not just Canada. Netflix is swallowing America's bandwidth, too, and it probably won't be long before it comes for the rest of the world. That's one of the headlines from Sandvine's Fall 2010 Global Internet Phenomena Report, an exhaustive look at what people around the world are doing with their Internet lines. According to Sandvine, Netflix accounts for 20 percent of downstream Internet traffic during peak home Internet usage hours in North America. That's an amazing share—it beats that of YouTube, iTunes, Hulu, and, perhaps most tellingly, the peer-to-peer file-sharing protocol BitTorrent, which accounts for a mere 8 percent of bandwidth during peak hours. It wasn't long ago that pundits wondered if the movie industry would be sunk by the same problems that submarined the music industry a decade ago—would we all turn away from legal content in favor of downloading pirated movies and TV shows? Three or four years ago, as BitTorrent traffic surged, that seemed likely. Today, though, Netflix is far bigger than BitTorrent, and it seems sure to keep growing.
Will Netflix Destroy the Internet?

Every so often a new subsection of the market "takes over" and dominates the market. ISPs complain as it puts "too much" demand on their infrastructure, the inevitable clamoring for tiered markets arise and there are new fears regarding net neutrality.

Currently video "hogs" bandwidth in today's market but it won't in tomorrows. This discussion will continue for the rest of this decade and on. Until we have enough bandwidth for both business and personal uses; until we have enough for live HD sport broadcasts, gaming and Netflix to run concurrently with business applications such as HD conference calls; where remote location engineers and architects are able to look at problems at a construction site; and doctors at a remote location are able to assist in a surgery - until we have the bandwith for that (and more) this debate will continue.

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