Traffic watchers eager for some hard numbers and new revenue streams now have lots of notes they can take for backup, with Monday's release from Sandvine, broadband network solutions providers for fixed and mobile operators. The new report shows the latest broadband trends based on aggregated anonymized data from its mobile and fixed service-provider customers.
Number-crunchers can replace adjectives like "hot" and "popular" and substitute them with facts. Yes, it is no secret that many broadband customers in North America flock to Netflix and YouTube but the report, "Global Internet Phenomena Report 2H2013," released Monday shows they are not just strong but real heavyweights.
Netflix and YouTube now account for 50 percent of downstream traffic on fixed networks.
Sandvine gathered its information on Internet traffic based on data from a selection of the company's 250-plus service provider customers. The customers ranged from North America and Europe to the Middle East and Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America and the Asia-Pacific. The data was compiled in September from that subset of service provider customers worldwide.
Leader in North America
One of the key findings from Waterloo, Ontario-based Sandvine is that Netflix has earned bragging rights as a killer downstream application. In fact, according to the report, Netflix (31.6 percent) holds its ground as the leading downstream application in North America and, together with YouTube (18.6 percent), accounts for that 50 percent-plus number of downstream traffic on fixed networks.
The Netflix story carries over to Europe as well. Less than two years since launching in Europe, Netflix accounts for over 20 percent of downstream traffic on certain fixed networks in the British Isles, according to the report. It took almost four years for Netflix to achieve 20 percent of data traffic in the United States.
Another takeaway is how low peer-to-peer file-sharing has dropped in the traffic charts; for the first time ever, peer-to-peer file-sharing fell below 10 percent of total traffic in North America, "a stark difference from the 60 percent share it consumed 11 years ago," said Dave Caputo, Sandvine CEO.
"Since 2009, on-demand entertainment has consumed more bandwidth than 'experience later' applications like peer-to-peer file-sharing," he added. Sandvine's analysts had earlier on projected that peer-to-peer file-sharing would fall below 10 percent, but they did not believe that would happen until 2015. "It's happened much faster," Caputo said.
The numbers not only carry information that its service-provider customers can use but has also made an impact on Sandvine's business."This phenomena," commented Caputo, "combined with the related rise in video applications like Netflix and YouTube, underscores a big reason why Sandvine's business has grown beyond traffic management to new service creation."
Other noteworthy findings include findings on Instagram and Dropbox, two top-ranked applications in many regions across the globe. The report found that in Latin American mobile networks, Instagram is now the seventh top-ranked downstream application.
Commenting on Monday about the report in Sandvine's Internet Phenomena blog, marketing analyst Dan Deeth highlighted the report's findings on Africa. "For the first time we were able to shine a light on mobile networks in Africa. As a whole, Africa is among the most diverse and fastest-growing regions in the world, and our data shows just how unique their mobile Internet usage is."
If one assumes people on the continent are stuck on Real-Time Entertainment watching, then think again. This is not the case in Africa. "During peak period, Real-Time Entertainment accounts for only 4.7 percent of peak downstream traffic," he found. "Instead, we can crown Web browsing as the dominant downstream traffic category, accounting for over 44 percent of total traffic."
Africa's Seat at Opera
YouTube findings may also cause surprise for some. In Africa it accounted for just 2.7 percent of traffic. HTTP traffic was the leading source of traffic at 32.2 percent and WAP Browsing (typically Web browsing on a feature phone) was also a contributor at 5.8 percent. He noted, too, that Africa was the only region where Opera Mini, a web browser focused on data efficiency, is among the top 25 applications.
Another note-taking item is how BlackBerry devices are popular in emerging markets such as Africa. Deeth said, "BlackBerry smartphones are efficient because all of their data (e-mail, browsing, BBM) is tunneled to a network operations center (NOC), and because of this it is seen as one singular source of traffic accounting for 13.9 percent of traffic."