Netflix unseats BitTorrent as Internet traffic king

Move over, BitTorrent. According to a report on global Internet traffic (PDF) from Sandvine, Netflix has replaced the P2P network as the single largest consumer of bandwidth in North America. That's not just for peak viewing hours, either. If you look at total traffic over a 24-hour period, Netflix has 22.2% of the pie, while BitTorrent is responsible for 21.6%.

The gap between Netflix and BitTorrent is much larger (24.7% vs 17.2%) during peak hours, which is to be expected. Since streaming video primarily consumes downstream bandwidth, BitTorrent still has a stranglehold over bits flowing in the other direction. During peak hours, the P2P service accounts for just over 52% of all upstream data—nearly 44 percentage points more than upstream HTTP traffic, which slots into second place ahead of Skype.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in the report is just how quickly monthly bandwidth consumption is increasing. Over the last six months, the mean monthly consumption rate rose from 15GB to 23GB. The median rate increased from 4GB to 7GB over the same period. As Netflix becomes more popular with mainstream folks, bandwidth consumption seems likely to continue to grow.

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