New report on Global Internet usage- Mobile is the sleeping giant.

Posted on November 6, 2010


The Internet is the Internet whether accessed through wired or wireless portals- thats just one of the findings from Sandvine’s Fall 2010 global internet trends report. Once again, nothing really new here to report from an intuitive standpoint. However, from a relevant research POV, this is exciting stuff. Just one example- in North America we leave our PCs on at home for P2P (peer to peer), and don’t bother with file sharing on our smartphones

Sandvine’s Fall 2010 Internet Phenomena report examines a representative cross-section of the world’s leading fixed and mobile data providers and is made possible by the voluntary participation of our customers. Collectively, Sandvine’s 200+ service-provider customers account for more than 300 million subscribers worldwide.

Observations from the Fall 2010 Global Internet Phenomena report:

  • In the United States, Netflix represents more than 20 percent of downstream traffic during peak times and is heaviest between 8-10 p.m.
  • The Asia-Pacific region ramps up their Internet usage at 5 a.m. and their median monthly data consumption is close to 12 gigabytes per household compared to 4 gigabytes in North America
  • In Europe, zSHARE has become the dominant leader for storage and back-up services.  It accounts for 3 percent of downstream traffic during peak periods
  • Behaviorally, some subscribers in Latin America use the Internet the same regardless of a fixed or wireless connection.  For example, close to 1/3 of traffic on wireless and fixed networks is real-time entertainment such as YouTube or PPStream
  • Overall there is a wide variation between the amount of time Internet connections are active.  For example, in North America the average time a fixed connection is active is 3 hours, whereas in Asia-Pacific it’s closer to 5.5 hours

Another major driver affecting worldwide Internet behavior is the increased availability of 3G and 4G networks.  Internet mobility has become as accessible as fixed line in many regions and subscribers are taking full advantage of the flexibility that converged networks offer.

(NYT) 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.