Friday, May 20, 2011

Broadband Milestone?

According to Peter Svennson, a technology writer for AP, quoting a study released by Sandvine Inc., more bandwidth (30%) is now spent watching Netflix movies and online TV reruns during the peak evening hours than is spent web browsing (17%) or watching YouTube (11%).  This is despite the fact that only about 25% of homes subscribe to Netflix in the USA.  In other words, streaming video takes up a lot of bandwidth, and that's why there are proposals emerging in every jurisdiction to charge you for the bandwidth you use rather than the flat monthly fee you're paying now to your ISP.  (File-sharing and videoconferencing also eat up bandwidth, and combined with web surfing, formerly used the most capacity every evening.)  So what does this say about the average North American internet user?  To a curmudgeon it says that online surfing (let's call it "research") for news, best buys, and general information about that project you want to build or Aunt Martha's crooked toe is on the wane, while online time-wasting (okay, let's call it "relaxation") is up.  This shift in bandwidth use could even be another indicator of the dumbing-down of North Americans I suspect, if we only knew how the rest of the world uses their bandwidth during evening hours.  On the other hand, we sure enjoy our Netflix subscription - $7.95 a month for unlimited movies - unbeatable!