Study: 44% Of Internet Traffic Is Peer-to-Peer

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Peer-to-peer file-sharing applications represent 44% of all bandwidth consumed on networks operated by North American Internet service providers, up from around 41% a year ago, according to a survey by Sandvine, a vendor of bandwidth-management systems.

Sandvine compiled survey results from several “leading” service providers, which it did not identify. The bandwidth-usage data was gathered at the subscriber access network, to account for traffic that is not routed through peering points.

Comcast has been reported to be a Sandvine customer, though the cable operator has not confirmed this. Comcast is currently testing “protocol agnostic” bandwidth-management systems to replace its current practice of targeting P2P applications, which generated criticism from Internet-neutrality advocates and regulators.

The three biggest overall generators of Internet traffic according to Sandvine’s May survey were: peer-to-peer file sharing (43.5%); Web browsing (27.3%); and streaming media (14.8%).

Other applications, ranked by overall usage, were: tunneling into private networks (5.9%); newsgroups (5.6%); online games (1.4%); and voice over IP (0.2%).

P2P accounted for an even bigger portion of upstream direction, consuming more than twice as much traffic as all other traffic combined. The three biggest traffic generators in the upstream direction are peer-to-peer file sharing (75.0%); tunneling (9.9%); and Web browsing (9.1%).

Downstream traffic was also primarily generated by P2P (35.6%), followed by Web browsing (31.6%) and streaming (17.9%).

Sandvine plans to make the report available on its Web site Wednesday.

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