New report reveals explosion in heavy app usage, complexity

Image by TierneyMJ |

Sandvine’s newly released 2022 “Global Internet Phenomena Report” aggregates data from more than 160 Tier 1 and Tier 2 fixed and mobile networks worldwide and has revealed some unprecedented trends.

The OTT players for the first time generated more Internet traffic (57%) than everyone else combined. What does that mean for telco business models if operators continue to make the massive, continuous investments in 5G, fiber and cable networks to fuel the data and cloud services of the largest OTT/Big Tech players, who pay little for what they get?

Across traffic categories, 56.96% of traffic was attributable to the top 6 brands – Google, Netflix, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft – and saw a 33% increase in total traffic from 2019’s 43.10%. Notably, this is the first year where the traffic from this collection
of powerhouses is larger than everyone else, combined.

QUIC is taking over the Internet, and with the controversy about Apple’s iCloud Private Relay it may become even harder for network operators to classify much of their network traffic (traditional analytics, gateways and probes currently labelling it as “unknown”). QUIC multiplexed transport, encryption, and privacy protocols like Apple iCloud Private Relay are obscuring network visibility for capacity planning and congestion management.

App Complexity has exploded with mashups of mapping, payments, chat, and multiplexing of video, voice and text. Also, 5G and Industrial IoT will mean apps blending video, robotics, AI, AR/VR, sensors, etc. With 5G Network slicing, there will be higher expectations for service assurance, latency, responsiveness.

A Terabyte isn’t what it used to be. The rapid growth of 1 Terabyte per month “heavy app users,” is a trend that is expected to accelerate with the transition from 4G to 5G and the explosion of video everywhere across social, gaming, messaging, and immersive experiences.

The average household is expected to use up to 750 GB per month but 30% of users on fixed networks consumed 3 TB per month (representing 60% of total traffic) with XBOX Live Video, MSFT Outlook 365, Netflix, PS4 Game downloads, Discord, Twitch, and BitTorrent comprising much of that traffic. 

Video is everywhere, with 2021 bandwidth traffic dominated by streaming video, which accounted for 53.72% of overall traffic, (YouTube, Netflix, and Facebook video in the top three). Mashups of videos, payments, maps, chat and other features increase the need for more sophisticated machine learning techniques to measure and deliver optimal app quality of experience (QoE).

You can download the full report here.

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