BitTorrent use drops as innovations in Video-on-Demand re-shape traffic stats

BitTorrent use drops as innovations in Video-on-Demand re-shape traffic stats

Consultants Sandvine published a report last month observing an emerging pattern that many suspect will become the norm in consumer traffic habits. That is that the use of BitTorrent – the practice of peer-to-peer file sharing, and the protocol often associated with the illegal download of copyrighted material – is waning. In the words of the authors, “We believe as more over-the-top Real-Time Entertainment (RTE) sources are made available to subscribers in the future, the rate of decline in share will begin to accelerate.”

As the report highlights, Netflix’s market leadership in RTE continues to dominate the American market, accounting for almost a third of peak downstream traffic on fixed networks, with share on mobile doubling in the last year. Elsewhere, YouTube is still the largest single source of RTE traffic on both fixed and mobile – yes, YouTube is still the leading source of Internet traffic in the entire world.

The report considers global trends, but I have picked out a number of highlights relevant for the European market:

On mobile traffic trends

Sandvine predict that video and audio streaming applications will account for over 60% of mobile usage globally by 2018. In the case of Europe, what is particularly noticeable is the popularity of Communications applications, which account for 21.9% of upstream traffic and 6.5% of total traffic during peak period traffic, much of which is made up by Skype, with a noticeable degree of growth driven by application WhatsApp.

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The Top 10 Peak Protocols

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Peak period traffic consumption

Sandvine observe that all European countries – regardless of the maturity of their digital markets — have an appetite for streaming audio and video, and that Real-Time Entertainment accounted for 40.4% of downstream traffic. Fluctuations in this figure between different European countries ranged from 35% to over 50% of downstream traffic, which was believed to be in part to the availability of over-the-top (OTT) video services in the varying countries such as Netflix or BBC iPlayer.

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On the decline of BitTorrent in Europe

As Telecoms.com highlighted in a recent article, peak period traffic share for BitTorrent remained high at 40.6 per cent, but Sandvine believes that trends will imitate the US, forecasting an end to their era of supremacy of traffic share: “Subscribers are likely using applications like BitTorrent to procure audio and video content not available in their region… We believe that Filesharing’s share of traffic may have finally reached its peak in terms of traffic share and will begin to experience a steady and significant decline, as paid OTT video services continue to expand their availability throughout the region.”

Media convergence in products, platforms and services provided to consumers will no doubt see interesting traffic developments in the UK market – the summer ahead sees the 4K Wimbledon trial from the BBC and Sony, the launch of BT Sport, the full results of the Netflix Arrested Development wager to name just a few highlights. Will fuller and more widespread adoption and use of the Connected TV be the next disruptive force to push RTE firmly at the top of the traffic charts? Let us know what you think…

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