Blog Post

Netflix Data: AT&T Caps Not That Generous After All

AT&T (s T) said that its average DSL subscriber only uses 18 GB of data per month when it announced its 125 GB cap earlier this year, and the company’s spokesperson Mark Siegel even called the caps “generous.” But new data published by network management specialist Sandvine this week might make one question the company’s rosy take on its bandwidth caps.

Sandvine said in a special report titled Netflix Rising (PDF) that the average Netflix user consumes about 40 GB of bandwidth per month. However, consumption seems to be much higher when Netflix is consumed with a connected device capable of receiving HD streams. The company singled out owners of Microsoft’s (s MSFT) Xbox 360 in particular: Users that stream Netflix through their Xbox 360 consume about 80 GB of data per month on average.

Unfortunately, we are not just talking about a few heavy gamers with Netflix co-dependencies: Around 25 percent of all Netflix traffic is consumed through the game console, according to Sandvine, with 33 percent of all Xbox 360 game consoles being used to stream Netflix content. One has to wonder how many of those Netflix-loving Xbox owners are poised to hit AT&T’s bandwidth cap with their next movie marathons.

Sandvine also compared Netflix traffic to other sources of bandwidth usage, pointing out that the video subscription service now uses close to 30 percent of North America’s peak bandwidth, surpassing BitTorrent as the largest source of data traffic in North America.

14 Responses to “Netflix Data: AT&T Caps Not That Generous After All”

  1. Al Kayda

    also i comment you idiots on bragging on how little internet you use when you pay 50 bucks a month for it. if you use so little and you don’t care why do you support att that should be making it cost less for you and give you even faster speeds due to tech increase? are you just trolls for att hmmm i wonder bc comcast admits they employ them…att now?

  2. Al Kayda

    I hit my cap every week bc i work at home. not my fault i signed for unlimited internet and netflix and now they want to change it bc they want a piece. I’m better off with torrents lol!

  3. Keith

    It seems with my AT&T dsl that it is impossible to hit the cap using netflix because it will no longer play during peak hours.. And if my wife checks her Facebook I have to yell at her to go to 3G!

  4. This is just another way to get more $$ from users.
    It is unfair to introduce this cap WITHOUT providing a USER FRIENDLY method of properly managing our consumption.
    “Oh we’ll let you know when you are over your limit and bill you” is unacceptable.
    I want the ability to manage the consumption and act BEFORE incurring additional charges.
    We are labeled as heavy users by AT&T. Netflix is a huge part of that for us.

  5. Ebbcom

    Still I don’t get it. For example me. I’m in europe, sitting here doing nothing with my 400 (!) mbps connection, no bandwidth caps, I’m pusshing 3-5 tb every month for 25$/pm(!), no netflix here available nor other services. The only thing I could do is to download 1080p movies from russia or some different torrent. Pathetic. I do have bandwidth, but no netflix, you got netflix but no bandwidth. There is no logic.

    • TimeKeeper

      “I’m pusshing 3-5 tb every month”

      What apps are you running in order to consume 3-5TB/month? Especially with no Netflix.

  6. I’m not an AT&T plant. I find that laughable.

    I’m an AT&T DSL customer. I have streaming video coming in via Netflix, Youtube, other sources. I watch in HD whenever possible. I am having a hard time hitting this “cap”.

    And, please, Pandora? The bandwidth is minimal. Pictures of cats? Similiarly minimal. Low rez videos of cats? A little more.

    Look, no one is claiming that no one is going to hit the cap, but there is automagically a knee-jerk reaction that somehow this cap is affecting some large number of people when, well, it isn’t.

    We need to go back to the quoted material again above.

    High-definition Netflix users are burning half of their >DSLall Internet bandwidth usageafter< the giant Comcast already established the rules. (Comcast is a much larger ISP.)

    • TimeKeeper

      Mark, I have to agree with you. I have Netflix, game consoles, iPads, and computers in the house and we don’t even come close to our cap every month.

      $1/GB, please. Look at what it costs now per GB in the basic package when you don’t use up to your cap. Bits are being left on the table, so to speak, but the ISP’s get your money up front. They should do roll over credits like cell phones do.

      Also, if you cap then there should be no speed limit. Let me get to that cap, and beyond, as fast as possible.


  7. Bandwidth caps are way for the ISP’s to control what we use. It is in their interest to control how many movies we watch on netflix (so we don’t cancel our cable). Bandwidth is DIRT cheap and cable company profits have never been higher. Therefore, the bandwidth cap is specifically designed to limit accessing products that compete with their cable TV division. Once people get used to the cap, they will gradually decrease it.

  8. keikii

    Um, Mark. That’s just 80 gigs of NETFLIX use. That’s just under half the cap for the month on videos. what about music from pandora? or just pressing the stumble button a hundred times a day getting new pictures of kitties doing funny things.

  9. “One has to wonder how many of those Netflix-loving Xbox owners are poised to hit AT&T’s bandwidth cap with their next movie marathons.”

    Virtually none. And besides, this is silly anyway. It’s $10 for the next 50GB of bandwidth. So basically, the small number of DSL customers who use a lot of Netflix and exceed the cap will pay $10 more.

    Uverse data customers get 250GB of bandwidth and will find exceeding the cap that much more impossible from watching Netflix. And they, too, face all of $10 in overage costs for the next 50GB.

    Look, I’m not arguing that the size of the caps is fair or technologically warranted, but what the Sandvine data shows is that EVEN HD users of Netflix on average will only use 1/2 of their AT&T cap for Netflix. Read that again. Add in multiple standard deviations from average and heavy Netflix users will not exceed the DSL cap, cannot exceed the Uverse cap. And somehow even if they do — as unlikely as that is — they’ll pay $10.

    So, please, can we move on to a real problem?

    • Chris

      Excuse me Mr. Oh-it’s-enough-bandwidth um it is a problem. You want to see us get in the mess Canada is? Everyday more and more of the average folk are using bandwidth intensive apps and etc. We can not place a limit on what is growing because eventually it’ll out grow it’s pants soon. You maybe looking at today but you fail to see tomorrow. Technology does not downgrade it upgrades and bring more to the plate each time sir. Anyways you reek of a AT&T plant. Maybe all the ISPs should get off their lazy cheap ass and bring us up to speed with the rest of the world which is at 100mb/s already as the de-facto standard.

      • Providing the consumer a faster download speed does not alleviate bandwidth utilization issues. It makes them worse. If you can download faster you will download more over a billing period.

        The ability to handle more capacity is what is needed.