BitTorrent Traffic Increases 40% in Half a Year

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New data published by the Canadian broadband management company Sandvine reveals that BitTorrent traffic increased by 40% in North America over the past half-year. During peak hours BitTorrent is credited for more than a third of all upload traffic, while Netflix accounts for 28 percent of all downstream traffic during the same period.

Many Internet traffic reports have been published over the years. Back in 2004, long before the BitTorrent boom began, studies indicated that BitTorrent was responsible for an impressive 35% of all Internet traffic.

In the years that followed Internet traffic distribution underwent a metamorphosis, as video streaming took off with the launch of YouTube and later Netflix. As a result BitTorrent lost a significant share of total Internet traffic, in the United States at least.

However, in absolute traffic BitTorrent is still booming. Traffic shaping company Sandvine published a report today which reveals that BitTorrent traffic increased by 40% in half a year in North America.

To say the least, this is a significant boost. However, BitTorrent traffic now accounts for a smaller percentage of total Internet traffic due to the latter growing at an even faster rate during the past few months.

In North America, BitTorrent is now responsible for 10.31% of all U.S. Internet traffic during peak hours, compared to 11.3% six months ago and 17.3% two years ago. Netflix is by far the leading application in terms of bandwidth consumption, accounting for 28.8% of all Internet traffic during the busiest times of the day.

The graph below shows the usage for various types of traffic during peak hours, where BitTorrent takes up 36.8% of all upstream bandwidth. Netflix is the absolute king in terms of downstream traffic here, accounting for nearly one-third of all traffic during peak hours.


op 10 Peak Period Applications (North America, Fixed Access


In common with North America, BitTorrent also remains the most-used file-sharing protocol in Europe. Bandwidth usage patterns during peak hours show that of 31.8% of upstream traffic can be attributed to BitTorrent, versus 12.1% of downstream traffic.

The P2P-network eDonkey also has a decent presence in Europe with nearly 4% of the aggregate Internet traffic during peak hours.


Peak Period Aggregate Traffic Composition (Europe, Fixed Access


Interestingly, Sandvine appears to misinterpret its own data by suggesting that the relative decline in BitTorrent’s share of total Internet traffic is due to improved legal offerings.

“We believe that the reason for this slide is primarily due to the increasing number of legitimate and affordable Real-Time Entertainment options available to subscribers,” they write.

However, with a 40% increase in absolute traffic this conclusion appears to make little sense. Legal media consumption through Netflix and other media portals is definitely on the rise, but BitTorrent traffic is still booming.

It will be interesting to see whether the upcoming “six-strikes” BitTorrent crackdown in the United States can slow down this upward trend.


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