Netflix, YouTube dominate landline Internet usage

Michelle Clancy | 08-11-2012

Mean monthly data usage has increased by 120%, from 23GB to 51GB, in the past year on North American fixed line broadband networks, with Netflix continuing to dominate with a 33% bandwidth share, according to a new study from Sandvine. To put that in perspective, it's worth noting that 51GB is equivalent to 81 hours of video.

Audio and video streaming account for 65% of all downstream traffic from 9 p.m. to midnight, and half of that is Netflix traffic. The other video services on North American fixed networks pale in comparison when it comes to usage. Those include Amazon (1.8% of peak period downstream traffic), Hulu (1.4%) and HBO Go (0.5%).

The company thinks that a 65% level of online video appetite spells certain death for the flat-rate, all-you-can-eat data plans from ISPs, as prioritising real-time applications like live audio and video become critical to maintaining a high Quality of Experience (QoE). QoE will be increasingly a requirement for revenue generation as major streamable (and monetisable) events like the 2014 FIFA World Cup loom on the horizon.

"With a 120% growth rate there is no doubt that more communications service providers will be launching application-based pricing plans that provide cost certainty and a consistent quality of experience for high-demand applications," said Dave Caputo, CEO at Sandvine. "Understanding the application make-up of a network is a critical first step in launching new services."

Globally, the report found that the in Europe, YouTube reigns supreme, and represents more than 20% of peak period downstream traffic on mobile networks. But in Asia-Pacific, where there are fewer paid over-the-top video services available, the non-streaming file-share site BitTorrent accounts for 36% of total traffic. That's compared with 16% of total traffic in Europe and 12% in North America.

"Real-time entertainment continues to soar," said Caputo. "Since 2009, on-demand entertainment consumed more bandwidth than experience-later bulk transfers, and we project that trend to continue through 2015 when BitTorrent will shrink to less than 10% of total traffic."

Asia is also the world leader of mobile data consumption, the report found, with a mean monthly usage of 659 MB, up 10% in the last six months.