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YouTube: 10 Percent of All Internet Traffic

YouTube now accounts for 10 percent of all Internet traffic, and 20 percent of all HTTP traffic.

Wondering how the rise of online video will impact Internet capacity? According to data released this week by Ellacoya Networks, YouTube now accounts for 10 percent of all Internet traffic, and 20 percent of all HTTP traffic. Here's a breakdown of Ellacoya's data by type:

  • HTTP traffic 46%
  • P2P traffic 37%
  • Newsgroups 9%
  • Non-http streaming video 3%
  • Gaming 2%
  • VoIP 1%

The study has gotten attention because it finds that P2P traffic is no longer the largest component of Internet traffic. Some in the P2P community are contesting that claim, as though P2P had lost some sort of network-clogging bragging rights. But it seems to me that the numbers are all about the rise of video, not the decline of P2P.

"The popularity of browser-based video such as YouTube is having a significant impact not only on overall bandwidth consumption but also on the distribution of application traffic on the network," said Fred Sammartino, vice president of marketing and product management at Ellacoya. "The way people use the Internet is changing rapidly - from browsing to real-time streaming. We expect to see new applications over the next year that will accelerate this trend."

Ellacoya's breakdown of the application types within HTTP reveals that traditional Web page downloads (i.e. text and images) represent 45% of all Web traffic, while streaming video represents 36% and streaming audio 5% of all HTTP traffic.

The discussion at Slashdot raises additional points, with commenters noting that the rise of YouTube has likely siphoned off some video file-sharing that used to occur over P2P protocols, and that some P2P apps use http. Others say requests from Ajax applications are boosting overall http use (this trend is known to affect web traffic analysis stats). Even trojans are cited as possible contributors, as they typically use http to "phone home" from compromised desktops.

Those could all be factors. But the bottom line is that YouTube launched on Dec. 15, 2005 and within 18 months accounts (by some reports, anyway) for 10 percent of all traffic. Joost and other Internet TV apps are even larger bandwidth hogs, by early accounts. What will their bandwidth consumption look like in 18 months?