Netflix is gobbling up a massive amount of the world’s data

5 Oct 2018

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Netflix is one of the world’s most popular internet services and new insights demonstrate just how much of a strain it puts on networks.

Subscription video on demand (SVoD) services are an entertainment avenue that is growing dramatically, with the trend likely to continue. According to a forecast from Statista, the number of households with an SvOD subscription is projected to grow from 250m this year to a massive 450m in 2022.

Netflix is a traffic giant

The numbers show just how commonplace streaming has become and new research from bandwidth management firm Sandvine shows how all that binge-watching is putting stress on networks around the world.

Vice-president of marketing Cam Cullen said: “The numbers for video are going to get higher as more and more content goes high definition and users turn more to 4K.” According to Sandvine, video streaming accounts for 58pc of the total volume of downstream traffic on the internet, followed by general web browsing at 17pc, gaming at 7.8pc and 5.1pc for social media.

Gaming is also becoming a significant force in traffic volume as Twitch streaming, gaming downloads and esports go mainstream. 51.43pc of all the gaming connections are League of Legends, with Fortnite coming in second place at 14.85pc.

Netflix is responsible for a relatively large chunk of the data consumed, accounting for 15pc of the total downstream volume of traffic. The sheer volume of Netflix on fixed internet networks means it has skyrocketed to the top of the global application traffic chart compiled by Sandvine. During peak evening hours, Netflix can often account for a massive 40pc of all download traffic on the entire internet.

It’s not just downstream traffic where video is taking over. Sandvine data shows that consumers are sending more video into the internet than ever before. Raw MPEG-TS (MPEG transport stream) is the top upstream application. Netflix using interactive video previews has also had a major impact on the upstream.

Users send Netflix a bookmark for location and as users browse the library, the platform immediately commences video previews, which explains the upstream traffic impact.

5G could ease the pressure

Many industry figureheads say that the incoming 5G network standard will improve streaming experiences as it becomes de rigueur. While many people already have good video streaming standards, this is not the case for everyone.

Recently, Nokia and France Television transmitted a TV programme recorded in 8K over a 5G wireless network at the Nokia Paris-Saclay Campus in France in July.

According to Nokia Bell Labs, by 2025, video content will make up 70pc of all mobile traffic. As the demand for video grows, so too will the need for reliable and quality infrastructure.

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects