Netflix Streaming and bandwidth

I’m a network abuser. I use my internet connection for everything. VPN access when at any public wifi location (VPN ddwrt). I also use it for Streaming movies on netflix, backup for my data (mozy, dropbox, rsync for business data) and just general browsing. So overall I am using a lot of data. When comcast put their 250GB limit in place I was worried (I’ll post on this later).

What the cap did was make me think about my network usage. I realized that I have created more of my own cloud service locally (internal home backup and syncing) vs using online services. Just doing this has cut down on some of my internet usage. The main thing I can’t see changing is our TV / Movie streaming. From netflix, youtube, and hulu we are always watching something.

Netflix just made news as Netflix’s share of digital movie units, either downloaded or streamed, was put at 61 percent between January and February.

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That is a huge market share, as well as a lot of bandwidth.  When you watch an HD move it uses more bandwidth than a standard Definition movie.   That said, how much bandwidth are you using.  Are you consuming all your allocated bandwidth on Netflix?   Here is a pretty good breakdown of what that usage looks like:

Netflix Movies (HD): These guys are around 3.8Mbit, which means it’s about 3600MB for a 2 hour HD movie.
Netflix Movies (SD): Each of these movies are around 500-700MB each, depending on the length of the movie.
Netflix TV Shows (HD): A 30-minute TV show will be about 1500MB.
Netflix TV Shows (SD): A 30-minute TV show will be about 400MB.

Even though that is a lot of bandwidth you would need to watch a lot of HD movies to hit the cap.  Around 70 HD movies in a month depending on the quality.   That is a lot of movie watching.  However, if you have a large family (as I do) and some are using their computer, others on the TV, and ipad; you would build up some usage (I’m not sure that the netflix account would even allow this).

That is a lot of bandwidth.  Netflix is using our internet bandwidth (that I purchase from comcast) to deliver their service.   Until recently this did not matter, because comcast did not have a cap.  Now that the average consumer is using more, the providers have to find a way to either cap (conserve) their bandwidth or charge more.   I’m not against this model at all, I just want to have bandwidth available.   A few years ago, a person would purchase high speed internet and only use a fraction of it.   Now, with out knowing they are using more and more bandwidth.  Their media devices; wii, ps2, and xbox are online.   The new TV and DVD players are hooked to pandora and netflix.   They are getting more content from youtube and netflix on their Computer.    I’m ok with paying, what I don’t want is my neighbor’s youtube addition to cause my backups to go slow (I don’t want others to hinder my internet usage).

It was recently posted that netflix has 20% of peak US bandwidth usage. That is amazing.


There is a lot more going on behind the scenes on who controls the bandwidth and who pays for the internet bandwidth.  For now, just realize that if you are streaming movies you are using your bandwidth that you pay for.   It is amazing how quickly the internet has changed our TV / Media viewing.   People now at least understand what streaming video is.

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