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Mobile devices rely on home fixed broadband


Once you get home with your smartphone or tablet, chances are you connect to your Wi-Fi network to access the internet. Referred to as “home roaming,” this common practice helps make iOS and Android devices the most significant generator of traffic for fixed-access broadband services in North American homes.

iPhones, Android devices and iPads accounted for 31.4 percent of the fixed-access broadband traffic during July 2016, according to a report released last month by Sandvine, a Canadian-based broadband network solutions company. That’s more than Windows PCs and Macs (23.7 percent); more than the two top gaming consoles (10.2 percent); and more than the three leading over-the-top (OTT) set-top boxes (8.1 percent).

Sandvine’s report released last month, profiles 10 device classes across four major platforms that generate nearly three quarters (73.4 percent) of fixed-access broadband traffic (downloads and uploads) in North American households.

  • Mobile devices: Android generates 13.1 percent of broadband traffic, iPhones 12.8 percent, and iPads 5.6 percent.
  • Desktops and laptops: Windows PCs account for 19.7 percent of the fixed broadband traffic. Macs generate another 4 percent.
  • Game consoles: While gaming demands high quality connections from broadband networks, it consumes relatively little of the total traffic. Playstation 4 generates 5.8 percent and Xbox One, just 4.4 percent of broadband traffic.
  • Over-the-top set-top boxes: While streaming services have the reputation of being traffic hogs, Sandvine found that OTT set-top boxes are relatively small consumers of fixed-access traffic. Roku leads the OTT pack at 3.9 percent, followed by Samsung TVs and Apple TV, each at 2.1 percent.

No matter what the connected device—PCs, mobile devices, gaming consoles or OTT boxes—streaming movies, TV shows and all other forms of audio and video generate the largest share of traffic on a home’s fixed broadband network.

  • On Windows PCs, 45.4 percent of traffic goes to streaming entertainment; for Android devices, 61.6 percent goes to streaming movies, TV shows and all other forms of audio and video; for iPads, 81.3 percent, and for Roku, 95.1 percent.
  • On PlayStation 4 consoles, video streaming (65.2 percent) and game downloads (25.6 percent) make up the majority of their bandwidth consumption. Game play is only responsible for 2.5 percent of the total traffic that the device generates.
  • For one communication service provider, the top Netflix device (at over 12 percent of traffic) was not a game console or web browser, but the operator’s own branded television set-top box that supported OTT applications.
  • In the United States, PCs were responsible for 61 percent of Olympic streaming traffic on a typical day. At 10 percent, Roku was the leading set-top box, besting Amazon Fire TV (3.9 percent) and Apple TV (3.3 percent).

Sandvine gathered the data for its Global Internet Phenomena Spotlight: Inside the Connected Home report from selected North American fixed-access providers during July 2016. The company uses proprietary technology to track transmission control protocol (TCP) traffic within anonymized subscriber sessions to generate device and platform statistics.