Home World Wide, Web Surfing Down as Entertainment, P2P Dominate Global Internet Usage

World Wide, Web Surfing Down as Entertainment, P2P Dominate Global Internet Usage

Sandvine’s Fall 2010 report on global Internet trends gives a glimpse into Internet usage in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America. In addition to examining geographic differences, the report also points out some of the differences between mobile and “fixed” usage, it also makes clear that, “To subscribers, the Internet is the Internet, whether it’s accessed through a wire or over wireless spectrum.”

Although there are certainly variations between regions, some of the trends the report finds are global: Real-time entertainment dominates data consumption on both mobile and fixed networks worldwide, constituting about 43% of total Internet traffic. And social networking services make up a significant and growing percentage of mobile Internet traffic, doubling in Latin America just over the last eight months.

As people look more to real-time entertainment and social networks, Web browsing is on the decline everywhere, except in Europe – the only part of the world, according to the study, that also saw a decline year-over-year in P2P traffic.

North America

Real-time entertainment is the largest contributor to data consumption in North America on both fixed and mobile networks, accounting for 43% of peak period traffic on the former and 41% on the latter. This is up from 30% less than a year ago. And as we’ve reported here before, Netflix alone constitutes more than 20% of downstream traffic during that time-frame.

P2P file-sharing remains popular in North America, but it has seen a dramatic decline on mobile networks. Even so, it still accounts for a whopping 53.3% of upstream capacity on fixed networks. In other words, we leave our PCs on at home for P2P, and don’t bother with file sharing on our smartphones.

Latin America

Although Latin America still has a relatively low level of Internet penetration, many new subscribers are opting for mobile, rather than fixed network access. Unlike the North America market, where these two methods of accessing seem to lead to slightly different Internet usage, in Latin America Internet users seem to behave similarly whether they’re wireless or wired.


The median monthly data consumption in this region occurring over fixed networks is roughly 12 GB. That’s compared with about 4 GB per month in North America.


The top four applications driving European upstream traffic are BitTorrent (30%), HTTP (23%), PPLive (12%), and Skype (9%). The latter is significantly higher than in North America and the Asia-Pacific, where Skype is roughly 3% of upstream traffic.

Photo credits: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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