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The Eyes Have It

In case there was any doubt, Cisco Systems (News - Alert) has come out with a study on service provider traffic trends indicating that online traffic continues to grow tremendously, in no small part due to video. The study, created during the third quarter, involved compiling and analyzing actual traffic information from more than 20 service providers’ networks.

Doug Webster, director of market management for Cisco’s service provider group, says the study reveals that 37 percent of overall traffic is video, or “visual networking” as Cisco likes to refer to it.

While many believe P2P traffic takes up the bulk of Internet bandwidth, Webster says that in fact it takes up just 38 percent. While that’s still significant and continues to increase, it grew less in 2009 than it did in the past, he says, and it’s increasingly less than the visual traffic. He points out that means the overall traffic mix is going to visual networking, which generates a lot more traffic on the network.

“We’ve been talking about how video is the killer application for the network, and this year has just proved that to be all the more the case,” Webster says, noting that video is now part of virtually any network experience and will become even more prevalent as more, new video-capable endpoints hit the market.

According to the Cisco study, globally, the average broadband connection consumes about 4.3 gigabytes of visual networking applications – including advanced services such as video, social networking and collaboration – traffic per month.

And, globally, the average broadband generates approximately 11.4 gigabytes of Internet traffic per month. The top 1 percent of global subscribers generated more than 20 percent of all traffic. And the top 10 percent of global subscribers generated more than 60 percent of all traffic.

Webster also points out that peak traffic indicators have important implications for service providers.

Internet “prime time” spans from approximately 9 p.m to 1 a.m. around the world. (This contrasts with broadcast TV prime time, which is generally from 7 11 p.m. across most global markets.)

Also, 25 percent – or 93.3 megabytes per day per connection – of global Internet traffic is generated during the Internet “prime time” period. A peak Internet hour has 20 percent more traffic than a nonpeak Internet hour, and the peak Internet hour averages 18 megabytes of traffic per connection (per hour), while nonpeak Internet hours average 15 megabytes of traffic per connection (per hour).

While Cisco has forecast that Internet traffic will increase five-fold by 2013, Webster says service providers actually will need to plan for a seven-fold increase in Internet traffic to accommodate traffic peaks as seen above. IT

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