Cisco Says Visual, Communications Apps Are Driving Broadband Traffic

In a survey of more than 20 top service providers, Cisco Systems finds that video and other visual applications now constitute 30 percent of traffic running through service provider networks, feeding into Cisco's assertion that such visual apps will dominate networks by 2013. In addition, the top 1 percent of broadband subscribers worldwide generate 10 percent of the traffic.

Video and other visual applications continue to drive the traffic crossing service provider networks, according to a study by Cisco Systems.

In results stemming from Cisco's VNI (Visual Networking Index) Usage study released Oct. 21, Cisco officials said more than a third of the average global broadband connection supports video, social networking and collaboration applications every month.

The information comes from more than 20 service providers worldwide, and feeds into what Cisco officials say they are seeing in the industry, in particular that the growth in visual traffic across networks will be rapid and dramatic.

In June, Cisco said Internet traffic worldwide would grow to five times its current size between 2008 and 2013, due in large part to the rise in video traffic. The company estimated that by 2013, 90 percent of all consumer IP traffic would be video.

The findings released Oct. 21 represent a snapshot of what's going on now-at least, in the third quarter of 2009-while the full VNI study looks ahead five years.

Among the findings were that worldwide, the average broadband connection-mostly residential subscribers, though some business users were mixed in-generates about 11.4GB of Internet traffic per month, which roughly translates to downloading 3,000 text e-mails, 100 MP3 music files or 360 text-only e-books per day.

Every month, the average broadband connection consumes about 4.3GB via visual networking applications per month-everything from video to social networking to collaboration.

In a video talking about the findings, Doug Webster, senior director of market management at Cisco's Service Provider Group, said the traffic generated by such applications is rising, while traffic generated by peer-to-peer applications is dropping.

"Its percentage [now at 38 percent] is going down because so many of the other services, such as visual networking services that are video-based [and] communications-based, are really growing at a much faster rate," Webster said.

Other results from the survey include that the top 1 percent of global subscribers are generating more than 20 percent of all the traffic, and the top 10 percent of global subscribers generate more than 60 percent of the traffic.

In addition, the prime time for Internet use is from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., and 25 percent-about 93.3MB per day per connection-is generated during this time. A peak Internet hour has 20 percent more traffic than a nonpeak Internet hour, according to Cisco.