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The Explosive Growth of Worldwide Broadband Usage

Sandvine gathers data from the 160 largest fixed and wireless ISPs on the planet to understand Internet usage trends. The statistics discussed below come from the Sandvine January 2022 Global Internet Phenomena Report. Sandvine identifies several current industry trends:

Broadband Usage Growing Rapidly. Broadband across the whole Internet grew by 34% in 2020 and another 29% in 2021. Sandvine estimates total worldwide data usage at the end of 2021 was 786 terabytes per second. Homes are leading the growth, and Sandvine says there has been an explosion of homes using a terabyte or more data per month. Sandvine estimates that the average usage per home at the end of 2021 could be as high as 750 gigabytes per month. This growth isn’t just from landline broadband. Mobile usage for those switching to 5G spectrum in Asia is up 60% compared to usage on 4G.

Big Company Apps Lead the Way. Sandvine says that a handful of applications now generate the lion’s share of worldwide traffic. Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Netflix now together generate almost 57% of all worldwide broadband traffic—far outstripping everybody else.

Masked Traffic Growing. Sandvine says there is growing use of transport protocols like QUIC multiplexed transport that hide the content of data and make it harder to plan worldwide networks. These protocols carry traffic like Apple iCloud Private Relay. Around 16% of all traffic carrier in North America is encrypted.

How We’re Using the Web. The following tables show how we’re using the web. This first table compiles all worldwide broadband usage by type. Video is still king, but there is substantial and growing usage from social media, gaming, and messaging.

World Wide
File Sharing3.74%

The following table shows the biggest applications users for North America (Canada and the U.S.). Netflix is still the leader, but Google traffic on YouTube is growing rapidly.

Total TrafficDownstreamUpload
Generic Data6.50%Generic Data6.91%Netflix6.53%
HTTP Media3.31%HTTP Media3.43%YouTube3.50%

Perhaps the most interesting statistic is that RTP (real-time protocol) is the leading use of upload bandwidth. This consists of real-time applications like Zoom calls. A few years ago, this wasn’t even on the top ten list.

By Doug Dawson, President at CCG Consulting

Dawson has worked in the telecom industry since 1978 and has both a consulting and operational background. He and CCG specialize in helping clients launch new broadband markets, develop new products, and finance new ventures.

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Thanks for sharing… Frederick Felman  â€“  Mar 2, 2022 5:22 AM

Fascinating how specific changes in our home and work life directly impacted internet traffic. No surprises, with more video being watched on our phones and TVs and the rise of remote work, these are expected patterns.

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