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Report: Netflix swallowing peak Net traffic fast

Netflix grabs nearly one-third of peak traffic, according to a report by Sandvine, with most of the traffic coming from gaming devices (and probably "Harry Potter" streaming parties).

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Simply put, Netflix owns the Internet in the United States--or at least it seems it soon could. That's the word from a report out today from Sandvine (PDF). It finds nearly 30 percent of downstream traffic during peak period originates with the king of movie streaming and red-envelope mailing.

If that stat isn't staggering enough, consider that only seven months ago that metric had Netflix with 20 percent of downstream peak data packets, according to an earlier report from Sandvine. I'm no math genius, but my numbers tell me that if that rate of growth were to continue unabated, Netflix would literally swallow the entire Internet by the end of the year, forcing our national economy to focus even more on making money from seasons 1 and 2 of "Glee."

Screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET

Of course, this can't really happen, but keep in mind that Netflix has 28 percent subscriber penetration in the U.S., a huge number, but one with plenty of room for growth.

Sandvine--which makes network equipment and conducts market research on the broadband sector--finds most of the Netflix traffic comes from gaming devices, with the PlayStation 3, Wii, and Xbox accounting for about two-thirds of all downstream data combined. PCs make up just under 20 percent of Netflix traffic, according to the report.

Even outside peak periods, Netflix still makes up just about one-quarter of total traffic online in the U.S.; BitTorrent uses the second largest amount of bandwidth at over 17 percent, the Sandvine report says. When it comes to upstream data though, shuffling torrents accounts for more than half of all outgoing data and Netflix stands at 3.5 percent, clearly reflective of the one-way nature of its delivery system versus peer-to-peer.

No matter how you crunch it, America's hooked on Netflix. And now that it's signed a deal with Miramax to plug big holes in its library--notably "Pulp Fiction"--it might just become the whale that swallows the Internet whole. Which is cool, I guess, so long as it lets me stream the documentary Werner Herzog makes about it.