Google(GOOG) accounts for nearly a quarter of Internet traffic in North America, according to a recent study conducted by analytics firm DeepField. That makes Google's Internet presence bigger than Facebook(FB), Netflix(NFLX) and Twitter's combined, according to the report. During a few hours of each day, Netflix will eat up more bandwidth than Google, but the streaming video site's peak traffic occurs just during "prime-time" hours -- Google still averages a larger chunk of Internet traffic during the entire day.
The most stunning revelation from the survey is that Google is growing faster than the Internet as a whole. In 2010, Google represented just 6% of Internet traffic.
That's because the study found 60% of all Internet-connected devices interact with Google servers during the course of an average day, including some gadgets you wouldn't think would be talking to Google, such as game consoles and home media devices.
A big part of Google's massive Internet presence and alarming growth comes from mobile devices. The company commands the largest chunk of the smartphone and tablet markets with its Android devices, and those devices all regularly check in with Google for updates throughout the day. Smartphone runner-up Apple's(AAPL) default search engine is Google, which adds to Google's Internet traffic share.
YouTube's data-heavy videos also play a role in Google's large internet share, DeepField said.
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Google's expanded internet presence has required the company to constantly build out its server capacity to handle the influx of traffic. The company has been spending more than $1 billion each quarter over the past few years on infrastructure investments.
"While it is old news that Google is big, the sheer scale and dominance of Google in the Internet infrastructure has significant implications on network design and evolution," Deepfield's Craig Labovitz wrote.
Google spokeswoman Liz Markman noted that its server improvements allow Google content and services to better reach consumers and deliver data-heavy streams such as YouTube videos more efficiently. The company had no comment on the DeepField study.
The DeepField report is based on a large cross-section of Internet traffic, collected from North American Internet providers. It covers roughly one-fifth of Internet traffic throughout the region, and Deepfield believes it to be the largest ongoing study of its kind.