Remember earlier this year when AT&T basically flicked their customers in the face by announcing strict data caps for no good reason? And remember how it followed that up by announcing the intention to throttle the hell out of their customers? Good times, good times. Both announcements were widely seen as proof of their intention to kill Netflix. Little did they know Netflix had every intention of doing the job themselves. We kid, we kid. We bring all this up because, while we cannot support AT&T's bandwidth grab, when it comes to its claims that services like Netflix gobble up tons of it, we have to admit they have a point. A recent study conducted by Sandvine Intelligent Broadband Networks has determined that Netflix streaming video services account for a whopping 32.7 percent of all Internet bandwidth. That's all, as in 'everywhere in the world'.
The study examined 80 different countries and found not only that Netflix, but entertainment apps in general rule the web. Real-time entertainment apps, like the games you play with your friends on Facebook, make up about 60 percent of peak traffic, an increase over the already-huge 50 percent share such apps enjoyed last year. Other interesting findings include confirmation that "the heaviest 1 percent of upstream users account for almost 43 percent of total upstream usage". One question the study explicitly asks is "Have we seen peak Netflix"? The answer appears to be maybe, as Netflix usage is predicted to decline somewhat going into Q1 2012 thanks to increased competition and their loss of membership thanks to recent blunders such as the now-cancelled Qwikster service.
For the curious, in the United States, the four largest Internet services ranked by daily download volume are Netflix, with 27.6 percent, HTTP with 17.8 percent, YouTube at 10 percent and BitTorrent pulling up the rear with 9 percent. Interestingly, BitTorrent's relatively low ranking, though still huge, is strong indication that critics of the heavy-handed response to digital downloading from the film and music industries have been right all along. People will generally choose the legal option, provided it's convenient. Whether that sinks in for the litigious music industry remains to be seen. In the meantime, we'll content ourselves with gasping in shock that some official aspect of the actual pornographic industry didn't make the top four.