YouTube accounts for ten percent of all North American Internet traffic, according to a recent report (PDF) by Ellacoya Networks. Based on data of approximately one million broadband subscribers in North America, the study also revealed that — bucking a four year trend — HTTP traffic now surpasses that of p2p, largely due to the proliferation of video streaming sites such as YouTube. Remember that for years it has been p2p traffic that’s dominated broadband usage, as users download pirated music and movies over p2p file-sharing networks.
As a result of an increase in streaming audio and video on the web, HTTP represents approximately 46% of all traffic, with p2p in second place with 37%. Newsgroups represent 9%, non-HTTP video streaming 3%, gaming 2%, and VoIP only 1%, which is surprising considering the recent popularity of Skype.
Breaking down application types within HTTP, the data reveals that traditional web page downloads (i.e. text and images) represent 45% of all web traffic. Streaming video represents 36% and streaming audio 5% of all HTTP traffic. YouTube alone comprises approximately 20% of all HTTP traffic, or nearly 10% of all traffic on the Internet
Nate Anderson, over at Ars Technica, suggests that the results could give ammunition to ISPs who favor packet shaping on their networks.
Between p2p, newsgroups, and streaming HTTP video traffic, the vast majority of Internet traffic is non-critical (i.e., no one’s going to die or lose $20 million if they don’t download a YouTube clip or a new song in under a minute). Networks that want to ensure priority transmission of VoIP calls, traditional HTTP web browsing, medical imaging, etc., have a strong incentive to throttle back that flood of non-critical traffic when the network is experiencing heavy loads. That could bring them into conflict with proponents of strict network neutrality, though, who don’t want to see any sort of packet prioritization.
In a recent post ‘Will ISPs spoil the online video party?‘, we noted that UK ISPs are already using packet shaping to penalise p2p traffic, while others are throttling users’ connections during peak hours in order to ‘manage’ bandwidth limits — the result of which could seriously hinder the development of Internet TV.
(Hat tip: Lost Remote)