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Look What Facebook's Video Boom Does to the Internet

All those videos = a lot more bandwidth.

Screengrab by Re/code
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Video streams on Facebook are skyrocketing, thanks to a new system that automatically plays clips in your stream, and encourages Facebook to show you more clips.

So guess what happens to bandwidth usage as all of those videos are playing?

Oh, right. You’re smart. You don’t need to guess. Still, check out this chart from Sandvine, the broadband network company. It shows you the change in Facebook’s data consumption at a U.S. wireless company over the last year, and at a U.S. “fixed network” — a telco Internet or cable Internet provider:

Sandvine’s Dan Deeth, who shared the chart earlier this month, says he’s not sure what happened in July to create that massive spike. Still, even after you factor that out, Facebook’s bandwidth usage is up 60 percent on mobile and more than 200 percent on the fixed network. Bear in mind that Facebook says it took steps to minimize video’s impact on mobile users, who are generally dealing with data caps.

What does that mean for your own bandwidth usage? We should find out sooner than later. Sandvine’s most recent survey, published in May, found that Facebook accounted for two percent of broadband traffic during peak hours, which is a lot but not nearly as much as YouTube (13 percent) or Netflix (34 percent).

My hunch is that it’s going to go up quite a bit the next time we see numbers from Sandvine, sometime this fall.

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