On the transformation of everyday culture in an era of liquid modernity

The absolute majority of all Internet traffic is p2p file-sharing

In BitTorrent, content analysis, file-sharing, Internet traffic, net neutrality, p2p on March 14, 2008 at 12:34 pm

…and most of the files shared are video files. The biggest p2p protocol, by sheer volume of data exchanged, is BitTorrent.

According to a special report by Internet analyst ipoque (2007), peer-to-peer (p2p) keeps producing more Internet traffic than all other applications combined. Its average proportion of the overall data traffic regionally varies between 49% in the Middle East and 83% in Eastern Europe. The world average share of Internet traffic that consists of p2p-based file-sharing exchange is estimated to around 70%.

In both Germany and the Middle East, web-browsing makes use of the second-biggest share of overall traffic, with a share of 26% in the Middle East and 10% in Germany. These numbers do not include any audio or video streaming content embedded in web pages, like YouTube. This media-streaming content was counted separately. Tellingly, in Germany, media-streaming ranked third with a proportion of about 8%. In the Middle East it was negligible with less than 0.1% of the share. Possible reasons, ipoque argues, include lower-speed Internet access and less media-rich content on local-language Web sites.

An alternative form of file-distribution, called “direct download links” (DDL), refers to a service offered by so-called “one-click file hosters” such as RapidShare.com and MegaUpload.com. (62 such file-hosting services were included in this study.) It is remarkable that these few content providers are responsible for nearly 9% of the Internet traffic in the Middle East and over 4% in Germany, making this type of traffic the third biggest in the Middle East and the fourth in Germany.

Protocol type distribution, Germany 2007

File-sharers are the ones making use of most bandwidth
Only about 20% of Internet users regularly make use of p2p-based file-sharing and this minority, according to the report, is responsible for up to 70% of the overall Internet traffic. Notable is that p2p traffic now grows in a proportional rate to overall Internet traffic, and that DDL appears to have taken over some of p2p’s traffic share, while BitTorrent reigns supreme as the number one p2p protocol.

The amount of p2p has increased proportionally with the overall Internet traffic. p2p has still grown, but different from last year, it did not outperform the overall traffic growth. Instead, some file sharers are turning to alternative services such as DDL instead.
The trend of growing BitTorrent popularity (observed in ipoque’s 2006 survey) continued. BitTorrent has become the by far most popular P2P protocol worldwide. Only in Southern Europe eDonkey remains the dominating protocol with a share of 57% of all p2p traffic. Notable are also the high amount of DirectConnect (DC) traffic in Eastern Europe (29%) and Gnutella traffic in Australia (9%). In Australia, the eDonkey and BitTorrent traffic volumes are particularly extreme with only 14% eDonkey and as much as 73% BitTorrent.

P2p protocol distribution by volume, Germany 2007

What are the main types of content shared with BitTorrent?
The following pie chart provides an overview of the content types exchanged with BitTorrent in Germany. Categories (audio, video, software, picture, e-book) are represented by different colors and subcategories by individual pie slices. The leading BitTorrent type of content is video, with a share between 62% in Southern Europe and 79% in Germany. Southern Europe has a particularly high amount of software traffic – 26% compared to 6% in Germany and the Middle East. German BitTorrent users download more porn (13%) than the other regions (2% and 5%).

BitTorrent traffic volume per content type, Germany 2007

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