Netflix is now the biggest source of Internet traffic in North America, accounting for nearly 30 percent of all broadband traffic during peak hours, according to a new report from Sandvine, an analytics company.
Sandvine concludes Netflix is now the "unquestioned king of North America's fixed access networks," noting that, even when averaged over a 24-hour period and when both upstream and downstream traffic are accounted for, Netflix tops charts as the largest source of web traffic, making up 22.2% of traffic, ahead of BitTorrent's 21.6%,
Netflix's share of Internet traffic is likely to fuel the controversy between the online video firm and Internet service providers, who have argued that TV shows and movies streamed from Netflix add an unsustainable burden to their networks. Companies are increasingly shifting to and considering tiered pricing models. AT&T, for example, is imposing broadband caps and will charge DSL users extra for exceeding 150GB per month.
"The data will surely stoke the debate on usage-based pricing for Internet consumption, which companies like Netflix--with 23 million users-- warn could curb consumer appetites for watching streaming video online," writes the Washington Post.
The report also finds that subscribers in North America are using more and more data: median monthly usage nearly doubled in six months from 4GB to 7GB, while mean consumption increased from 15GB to 23GB in the same period, Sandvine found.
It also noted that despite the growth of "real-time entertainment" services like Netflix, P2P filesharing has maintained a consistent share of web traffic and predicts that these sites are "here to stay."
Read the full report here.