That streaming videos makes up a huge percentage of the Internet's traffic is by now well-known. Netflix alone makes up nearly 30% of all downstream traffic and we're now accustomed to hearing about the extraordinary amount of bandwidth eaten up by videos streaming during major news events.
For example, during President Obama's inauguration, content delivery network Akamai delivered 7 million simultaneous streams of video, with traffic surpassing two terabytes per second (Tbps), which broke records. The next year, Akamai's network traffic peaked at about 3.45 Tbps.
If you think we're eating up a lot of bandwidth streaming video now, just wait. That 3.45 Tbps figure from last year will be blown out of the water within five years, according to a detailed report put together by Akamai, Harvard University and University of Massachusetts. The researchers suggest that "it is reasonable to expect that throughput requirements for some single video events will reach roughly 50 to 100 Tbps" within two to five years. The low end of that estimate represents an increase of about 1349% from 2010's peak, at least as far as Akamai's CDN is concerned.
This growth is not guaranteed to be smooth, either.
"Because of the limited capacity at the Internet's various bottlenecks, even an extremely well-provisioned and well-connected data center can only expect to have no more than a few hundred Gbps of real throughput to end users," the report reads. "This means that a CDN or other network with even 50 well-provisioned, highly connected data centers still falls well short of achieving the 100 Tbps needed to support video's near-term growth."
Not surprisingly, the paper's touts Akamai's technology as a potential solution to any issues this may present. The report, a PDF of which can be viewed here, is rich in technical detail about how Akamai, content delivery and the Internet in general work and makes for a pretty interesting read over all.