Global internet traffic is dominated by video

Global internet traffic is expected to grow by 23% in 2022, driven by increased video streaming and increased traffic across application categories.

It details the latest global application usage and internet traffic trends, according to Sandvine’s ‘Global Internet Phenomena Report’ for 2023.

Sandvine says the report’s analysis is based on data from 177 service providers representing nearly 300 million subscribers. It covers regions across the globe, namely the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

According to the report, Netflix, Microsoft, Alphabet (Google), Meta, Amazon, and Apple are the largest generators of internet traffic, producing nearly half of all internet traffic during the period under review. The big six firms generated about 48% of the increased internet traffic in the first half of 2022.

Although the companies generate a significant amount of overall internet traffic, Sandvine notes that their percentage contribution to overall internet volume is down 9%.

“This means that their traffic is now concentrated across an ever-widening range of app categories and more apps that generate more data overall. This contributes to the 23% increase in total traffic volume we see in our H12022 data.

“Following the historic surge in internet traffic driven by COVID in 2020 and 2021, the ‘new normal’ in application usage and volumes continues to appear,” said Samir Marwaha, chief solutions officer at Sandvine.

“The rapid acceleration of digitization has led to increased reliance on applications and a rapid evolution towards more complex applications that integrate multiple functions and features.”

In the report, Sandvine finds that the streaming and short-form video trend has become a catalyst for internet traffic growth.

Videos from not only big tech companies, but also newcomers like TikTok and Disney+ contribute huge amounts of traffic.

According to analysis, video now accounts for 65% of all internet traffic. “The demand for video content is increasing, so most platforms are embedding and distributing videos within apps to increase views and engagement.

“Our data shows that in the first half of 2022, video accounted for 65.93% of the total volume on the Internet. This is a 24% increase over H12021.

Marwaha adds, “Video is almost at the point where it can no longer be considered an independent category because it is now an integral part of conferencing, gaming, social networking, messaging and virtually all applications that want to interact and connect.”

South Africa has seen many streaming platforms launch their services to local consumers in recent years, and industry commentators expect further growth in the future.

The country now counts Netflix, MultiChoice-owned Showmax, Disney+, Amazon’s Prime Video, Apple TV and BritBox among the players entering the streaming services market.

Looking at the growth of applications, Sandvine points to an increase in the number of applications, adding that applications have become more complex.

This, he says, leads to the demise of the web browser, as everything becomes a web app that includes multiple web pages, feeds, and features — all within one app.

“You can have video, audio, chat and game content in one app. For example, Uber is not a single app, but rather a series of apps such as Uber, Uber Eats, Uber Freight, Uber Same-Day Package Delivery, Google Maps, third-party geolocation services, GPS tracking and payment services.

In addition, the report shows that smartphone usage is reshaping app usage and internet traffic around the world.

“We see that time spent on mobile apps has increased from around three hours before the pandemic to around five hours per day on global average. People were using their cell phones for things they never used before: watching longer videos, video conferencing, file sharing, distance learning, delivery apps (food, goods, etc.), gaming, and more.

“In 1H2022, some of the COVID-19 habits continue as people are on the go again, with video viewing and content downloading increasing as people leave their homes and do more work on the move. Video traffic currently makes up 67.60% of the volume.

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