What we’re really using the Internet for: Real-time entertainment and Netflix

Some very interestingstatistics released yesterday from Sandvine, a Waterloo-based company thatprovides broadband network solutions to fixed and mobile operators, as part ofits spring 2011 report on global Internet phenomena.

Based on March 2011 Internettraffic statistics voluntarily submitted by a representative cross-section ofSandvine’s customer base, the research found that real-time entertainmenttraffic now represents 49.2 per cent of all peak (evening) Internet traffic, upfrom 29.5 per cent in 2009. That’s well ahead of P2P file sharing in second at18.6 per cent, and traditional Web browsing at 16.6 per cent. Web browsing heldtop spot in 2009, at 38.7 per cent.

Why the change? Clearly howwe consume media content is changing, and you can bet the cable companies arewatching. We’re getting more and more of our entertainment online. The topsingle source of downstream traffic in peak hours is Netflix, accounting for 29.7per cent of traffic. HTTP is well back at 18.36 per cent. On the upstream side,BitTorrent is dominant at 52.01 per cent.

These trends have to beconcerning for Canada’scable companies, and explain in large part their forceful reaction during theusage-based billing debate. The major providers sell us both Internet andcable/satellite TV. But while these numbers show there’s a major shift in wherewe get our media away from the traditional channel to the Internet, and whilethey make money off both, they make a heckuva lot more from cable/satellite TVpackages than they do from Internet access. They want to make up that revenuesomewhere.

What does it mean for thechannel? Well, these numbers show the need for capacity is going to grow, so it’snot a bad time to be in the network equipment business. These trends also won’tstay confined to the home; we’re going to be consuming a lot more web-basedmedia at the office too and partners should help their customers ensure theirnetworks and policies reflect the shift.

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