An Interesting Statistic in the Net Neutrality Debate

The debate on net neutrality is raging from Washington to Silicon Valley right now. For those not up on the latest geek terms, the net neutrality debate is around whether internet service providers should be allowed to create ‘electronic toll roads’ on the Internet that would allow companies to pay extra fees in order to have prioritized/faster service through the Internet.

Those in favor of net neutrality maintain that the Internet should remain free and equal to everyone. In this camp are a lot of the big content providers (Google, Facebook, Netflix, etc.). Those on the other side of the debate are the internet providers who see this as an opportunity for a new/additional revenue stream.

Regardless of which side of the issue you happen to fall on, there were some interesting statistics released last week from Sandvine Corp, a provider of networking technologies. Specifically, the study gathered data on downstream Internet traffic during peak hours in North America (among other things). From that data, they found that Netflix is responsible for 34% of traffic, and YouTube is responsible for 13% of traffic. That means these two services alone account for just under half of all downstream traffic in North America during prime time.

Also interesting from the data in the study was the fact that when it comes to upstream traffic in North America, the heaviest 1% of users account for 47% of the traffic. If you look at the other end of the spectrum, the lightest 50% of users only account for about 7% of total monthly traffic.

We often find ourselves working with clients to find out why things are ‘slow’. There are a wide variety of different root causes we find for slow performance, but the network is always one of the variables on the table in our analysis. I can certainly tell you that if we discovered one or two applications consuming 50% of a customer’s available network capacity that would definitely be on the agenda for discussion.

So why hasn’t the data behind the net neutrality argument been part of that discussion?

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