Video streaming drives US rural Internet traffic

Analysis of data aggregated from 45 US communications service providers has provided new insights into Internet application and usage patterns among rural Americans, and indicates that video streaming dominated downstream traffic, while business services generated most upstream traffic

The Calix US Rural Broadband Report data was drawn from actual Internet traffic monitored in US service provider networks from the fourth quarter (October through December) of 2011. Access specialist Calix will follow up with a new version of the US Rural Broadband Report every quarter.

According to calix, as service providers prepare for an all-video world, it is not surprising to see video streaming as the dominant broadband-enabled application among eight categorised applications. Video streaming accounted for 67 per cent of downstream Internet traffic and 13 per cent of upstream traffic in the studied networks. Large content distribution networks (CDNs) such as Level3, Limelight, and Akamai – which carry video content from sites such as Netflix and YouTube – accounted for 80 per cent of all streamed video traffic. In terms of upstream traffic, business services generated the most, accounting for 53 per cent of all upstream traffic.

Additional findings from the inaugural Q4 2011 report include:

  • Service providers that offer Internet services exclusively over fibre access networks saw subscribers generate over 2.67 times more traffic than service providers that offered Internet services over copper-based networks.
  • The top five per cent of subscribers in the rural US networks studied used more than 100 GB of downstream traffic a month, and accounted for approximately 50 per cent of Internet traffic.

“This level of insight into the bandwidth drivers of rural US broadband networks provides both Calix and our service provider customers a powerful tool for network planning and transformation projects,” said Miguel Alonso, Calix vice president of software products. “As was expected, video streaming emerged as the biggest contributor to broadband Internet traffic across our customers’ networks, a trend that we expect will continue to grow in future quarters. With this real-world data available to our customers through Compass Flow Analyzer, these service providers can truly understand how their subscribers are using their networks, and use this information to manage current and future demand, lay the foundations for usage-based billing, and build better behaviour-based service packages that fit the real usage patterns of broadband subscribers.”

 

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