Netflix has recently released its ISP Speed Index. Is this a ploy to pressure ISP’s to join its Open Connect web caching program? Web caching puts CDN edge servers in ISP access networks to decrease network transport and peering cost. It seems there is either a consumer awareness problem or perhaps a technical mystery here. If the average US broadband speed is 6.7 Mbps than why is Netflix reporting the highest average speed @ 2.30 Mbps?

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Netflix consumer awareness efforts

Are devices not capable of higher throughput rates, WiFi networks constraining bandwidth, ISP’s traffic shaping, or possibly Netflix is overwhelmed with demand?

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IPAD WiFi speed test

The answer is none of the above. Video stream bandwidth requirements are largely a function of screen size, aspect ratio, frame rate, pixel density and encoding efficiency. A Blu-ray Disc Player requires 10 Mbps for High Definition content to a 1080p 16:9 Television, a Tablet device or PC delivers extremely good video quality with a 2.5 Mbps stream. The simple answer is that more consumers are watching Netflix on PC’s and Tablets so the discrepancy is not one of ISP supply but consumer behavior and device format demand.

Chart 18: Normalized Average User Traffic—April 2012 Test Data

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