Internet bandwidth study shows that people can't get enough Netflix

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Internet denizens must really love their Netflix—so much so that according to a recent study, the streaming service accounts for over a third of peak-hour downstream Internet traffic in North America.

The numbers come to us via the networking firm Sandvine, whose latest Global Internet Phenomena report shows that Netflix streams gobble up 36.5 percent of Noth America’s downstream traffic during “peak evening hours.”

But Netflix isn’t the only video streaming service that has made a dent on the Internet: the company also says that HBO’s two streaming services, HBO Go and HBO Now, “accounted for 4.1% of traffic on one US fixed network” during the fifth-season premiere of Game of Thrones.

Meanwhile, the company found that BitTorrent traffic is declining as a percentage of Internet traffic, making up 6.3 percent of traffic on North American broadband networks. Sandvine also found that Facebook and Google comprise 60 percent of mobile Internet use in Latin American countries.

Why this matters: At first blush, Sandvine’s data may seem to be merely interesting bits of trivia, but it underscores the profound impact streaming media has had on the Internet as a whole. All you have to do is look at the Internet’s looming capacity crunch.The fact that BitTorrent is in decline also speaks to the rise of convenient, affordable legal digital media services such as Netflix, iTunes, and Spotify. 

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