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Top Site Movers and Shakers: Part 3 – Announcing the 2010 Cisco VNI Usage Study

So, in the previous two blog posts, here and here, we covered the following results of the 2010 Cisco VNI Usage Study:

  • Q. How much broadband traffic global subscribers are generating?:
    A. 14.9 gigabytes per month, an increase of 31% from last year
  • Q. What applications are global subscribers using to consume that bandwidth?:
    A. Online video applications account for 26% of total global IP traffic
  • Q. When are global subscribers using network resources?:
    A. All the time, but especially during “Internet Prime Time” between 9pm and 1am (globally)

Now, let’s focus on Internet activity. How are people using the Internet and what sites are they visiting?

Here are a few takeaways that our VNI Usage study revealed:

  • Over one-third of the top 50 sites by volume are video sites, the largest percentage of any category. This makes sense since online video is now the top application used on the network.  However, on that list, there is a high degree of diversity among the video sites in the top 50, including video viewed on gaming consoles, Internet TV, short-form user-generated video, commercial video downloads, and video distributed via content delivery networks (CDNs). So it’s not just about Youtube, Megavideo, and Facebook, but sites that are optimized for longer form content too.

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Prime Time for Broadband: Part 2 – Announcing the 2010 Cisco VNI Usage Study

As I discussed yesterday, the Cisco VNI Usage Study is able to help translate the theoretical to the real, showcasing actual data sourced from a representative sampling of SP networks worldwide. Because it is primary data, we’re able to parse the information a number of different ways – we can effectively slice and dice it like a Ginsu – not just at a high level, but down to hourly granularity.  When reconciled with the many time zones this study covers, it provides some great insights into user behavior across multiple geographic regions.

For example:

  • “Busy hour” traffic grew at a faster pace than average traffic, growing 41 percent since last year. Peak-hour Internet traffic is 72 percent higher than Internet traffic during an average hour. The ratio of the busy hour to the average hour increased from 1.59 to 1.72, globally.  So, if you are a network planner, it’s not enough just to plan for the basic growth forecast of – you must account for the daily peaks as well.  Based on our findings, that means planning for an overall capacity nearly ¾ more than the top-line traffic growth estimates in order to prevent massive congestion during daily peak periods.
  • Voice and video communications traffic is now six times higher than data communications traffic (email, instant messaging, instant messaging file transfer). Voice and video communications traffic (such as voice over IP [VoIP] and voice and video over instant messaging) has reached 2 percent of all traffic, up from less than 1 percent last year.  With new tools applications becoming available seemingly every day, from Cisco ūmi to the latest from Skype, this will continue to be a space to watch.
  • Online video fluctuates more than file sharing traffic. Online video’s volatility (defined as the spread of traffic volume during the course of the day) is 51 percent higher than that of file sharing. The peak video hour is 91 percent higher than the average video hour, while the peak file sharing hour is 64 percent higher than the average file sharing hour.  So while the move to online video is good for providers to showcase the quality of their networks compared to P2P where the role and value they can deliver is limited, it does provide more challenges such as the need to accommodate greater volatility.

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Announcing the 2010 Cisco VNI Usage Study Findings

Few things get me as fired up about this industry as being able to dive into some serious data about, well, data. By now, most of our readership is quite familiar with our Cisco Visual Networking Index study or VNI. It’s comprised of several separate efforts, with the VNI Forecast being the best known of the bunch and the one that is most often quoted in the media, used by regulators, and factored into architectural plans by our customers. The Forecast is, as its name conveys, offers a forward looking view. Using third party subscription growth forecasts and advanced modeling techniques, we deliver an estimate of the amount of traffic that will be crossing global IP networks over the next half decade.

But what is real traffic looking like now, you ask?

For that, we have the Cisco VNI Usage study – unlike the Forecast, which uses third-party subscription growth inputs, VNI Usage assess the activity taking place over networks every day.  It’s a compilation of anonymous data sourced from millions of broadband subscriber lines from over 20 service providers worldwide.  While we don’t know the names of the user or the specific content viewed, this unique, primary data does provide subscriber-level insights into a variety of factors such as: the type of applications used; when and how much bandwidth is consumed; and a context for the networking trends and challenges that many network operators are grappling with today.  It’s real data on data that’s real interesting (and you can quote me on that).  Over a series of several posts this week, I’ll dive into details of the Cisco VNI Usage study that was just released this week and covers the research period of the third calendar quarter of 2010.

Here are some top takeaways:

  • The average broadband connection generates 14.9 GB of Internet traffic per month, up from 11.4 GB per month last year when we ran this same study – this is an increase of 31 percent when averaged out across the global subscriber base.
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing is now 25 percent of global broadband traffic – last year it was 38 percent of total traffic.  It’s important to know that despite this significant drop in percentage, the overall about to traffic generated by P2P in absolute terms is still growing – it’s just growing more slowly than visual networking and other advanced applications such as online video.  Which leads me to…

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The Broadband Quality Study – Tracking the Broadband Revolution Worldwide

Broadband is a term that has been around for years and is admittedly overused.  What some refer to as “broadband” is really more of just a step up from narrowband…call it “slightly wider narrowband” if you will.  As many long-time readers of SP360 know, at Cisco, we’ve been a big proponent of having higher broadband standards and classifications since consumers, businesses, and governments alike stand to benefit.  It’s not enough to just get marginally faster email when most of the rest of the world is focused on video and other advanced applications which require not just bandwidth but intelligence as well.

While there are many studies that chart overall broadband penetration, or the percentage of a population that receives broadband (by whatever definition may be used), we realized a few years ago that there wasn’t a study that focused on broadband “Quality” (i.e. what that said broadband can actually do).  To that end, Cisco searched around and found interest in an effort from the Saïd Business School of Oxford University and the University of Oviedo’s Department of Applied Economics that we agreed to sponsor.  The effort, called  the Broadband Quality Study, or BQS, is now in its third year with the latest results just released.

So what’s the news this year compared to last year or in 2008 when the study debuted? While the BQS, which uses  the data from 40 million real-life broadband quality tests conducted in 72 countries around the globe between May-June of 2010, gives us many new insights and surprises every year, I would say the real standout result this year is the speed at which countries have been able to become broadband leaders in just a few years. While we have expected this trend in the past, the three years of data to draw on, the BQS only now really proves it: Read More »

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Cisco Announces Research and Administrative Computing for Higher Education


As we face the combined challenges and opportunities presented by globalization, technology acceleration, and demographic shifts, competition is increasing, and innovation is becoming more and more critical for companies and countries to succeed and stay ahead of the curve.


This past week at Educause, we announced the availability of our new Research and Administrative Computing solution based on Cisco’s world-class Data Center and Collaboration technologies. This solution can help administrative leaders and research center directors save time and money and improve performance by working better together.  By improving research collaboration within the university, and between universities, companies, and governments, we can improve the ability to innovate.

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