People watching videos on Netflix take up more bandwidth on the Internet than users of any other Web site or service in North America, according to a report Tuesday by broadband analytics firm Sandvine. At peak Internet hours, as much as 30 percent of online traffic is generated by Netflix subscribers who are watching movies or TV shows over their laptops, game consoles and smartphones.
The report highlights a rapid move by consumers toward the Web for their entertainment and news. Netflix accounted for 20 percent of Internet traffic just six months ago, according to Sandvine.
Combined, Netflix, YouTube and other online video sites create about 46 percent of all Internet downloads during peak hours, according to Sandvine. The company forecasts that the category for on-demand entertainment will represent a combined 55 to 60 percent of peak traffic by the end of 2011.
That shift has threatened cable and telecom companies, who are responding by changing their billing practices to charge Internet users for how much data they consume instead of offering flat-rate monthly fees.