Video Streaming Traffic Grew by 24% in 2022

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WATERLOO, Ontario—New data from Sandvine's 2023 Global Internet Phenomena Report shows that internet traffic continued to grow at a breakneck pace in 2022, with total traffic up 23% and video traffic growing slightly faster at 24%. The growth reflected surging streaming video usage and continued growth in traffic across app categories, including gaming, cloud, VPNs, marketplaces, and conferencing. Overall video accounted for 65% of all traffic. 

The data, which is based on actual usage data from more than 177 service providers worldwide, also found that the "Big 6" (Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, Netflix, and Microsoft) still generate almost half of all internet traffic, with Google and Netflix responsible for the largest volumes. This year for the first time, Netflix app surpassed the YouTube app in traffic. 

"Following the historic COVID-driven internet traffic surges of 2020 and 2021, the 'new normal' in application usage and volumes seems to be here to stay," said Sandvine Chief Solutions Officer Samir Marwaha. "The rapid acceleration of digitization led to an enhanced reliance on applications and a rapid evolution toward more sophisticated apps that fuse together multiple functions and features."

For the first time, Netflix replaced YouTube as the individual app generating the most traffic, with TikTok, Disney+, and Hulu among the top-10 generating the most traffic volume. 

"Video is almost to the point where it can no longer be considered a standalone category, as it's now integral to conferencing, gaming, social networking, messaging, and virtually all apps that want to drive interactions and engagement," added Marwaha.

Sandvine also reported that to keep up with these unprecedented demands, telcos have expedited network upgrades and buildouts. But the onslaught of video, compounded by a growing number of applications with greater demands for latency, bandwidth and throughput, is exerting extraordinary pressure on global networks.

"As different OTT platforms expand their services and raise expectations, they can simply raise prices to fund service improvements, but the telcos that build and maintain the networks on top of which these services ride cannot do the same. It's to be expected that operators would seek regulatory relief, and the data in this report illustrates why," said Sandvine CTO Alexander Haväng."

The growing usage, volumes, and complexity, all on top of ever-increasing customer expectations and rigid regulatory structures, have led the telecom industry to a crossroads, the study found. 

"Sandvine's Global Internet Phenomena Report shows very clearly that internet traffic and application usage will never return to pre-COVID levels," said CEO Ray Mota of ACG Research, who believes telecom operators will be more targeted about when, where, and how they invest. "Telco service providers have to look beyond basic network functionality and ask more than 'can my network keep up?' Instead, they have to ask 'how can I keep my customers happy?' By understanding actual quality of experience, they can more efficiently utilize what they've got and better target investments where more is needed."

The full Sandvine's 2023 Global Internet Phenomena Report can be downloaded here (opens in new tab).  

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.