Streaming video is a big business, with companies like Netflix and Hulu raking in hundreds of millions of dollars every year. And now, according to a study by networking company Sandvine, Netflix is now the single biggest user of internet bandwidth in North America. The research shows that streaming video has been steadily taking over the majority of our virtual internet pipes, and web surfing — once the top dog — is now lagging far behind.
Netflix now accounts for nearly 30% of all downstream internet traffic, with traditional websites scrounging up just 18%. This makes sense, as the video that Netflix offers, much of which is in high definition, eats up a lot more bandwidth than a simple web page. Perhaps what's most surprising is Netflix's huge lead over competing streaming services like YouTube, with 11%, and Hulu, garnering just 1% of overall bandwidth.
We seem to be entering uncharted waters in terms of our internet usage, as well as the rules being imposed on it. On one hand we have studies like Sandvine's, which clearly show streaming video is here to stay, and on the other hand we have threats of bandwidth caps, speed throttling, and more limitations than ever before. These two trends simply can't continue to grow without clashing, and predicting which one will come out on top is anyone's guess.
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