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Summary:

Content providers may have finally found a way to battle peer-to-peer file sharing, by making their content easily available online. According to Cisco’s latest Visual Networking Index, video accounts for more than one-quarter of all network traffic worldwide, topping P2P traffic for the first time.

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Content providers may have finally found a way to battle peer-to-peer file sharing: by making their content easily available online. That’s one possible takeaway from Cisco’s latest Visual Networking Index, which found that video now accounts for more than one-quarter of all network traffic worldwide. That means video is now the largest portion of all data that runs across the Internet, topping peer-to-peer traffic for the first time.

Video traffic, which includes streaming, Flash video and streaming via peer-to-peer technology, made up 26 percent of data traffic worldwide, according to Cisco, compared with the 25 percent of traffic made up of P2P file-sharing. That’s a dramatic reversal from last year, when P2P accounted for 38 percent of worldwide data traffic. It’s not that P2P usage is shrinking, but that video consumption is growing that much faster.

Not just that, but video makes up one-third of all data traffic delivered from the top 50 websites globally, and Cisco says video sites dominate the top 100 websites by traffic volume worldwide. The trend is particularly strong in North America, where 60 percent of the top 100 sites are either video or gaming sites.

That said, while P2P traffic tends to be fairly flat throughout the day, video traffic is extremely volatile. Online video traffic hits its peak between the hours of 9:00 pm and midnight worldwide, when it makes up around 28-29 percent of total data traffic. According to the report:

“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.”

Finally, while Adobe likes to boast that some 75 percent of all web video is Flash-based, consumption numbers tell a different story, according to Cisco. It found that of the 26 percent share of traffic belonging to online video, only 7 percent is Flash video. Another 10.5 percent is streaming video; 5 percent is streaming video via P2P technologies; 3.6 percent is audio and video over HTTP; and 0.28 percent is made up of video downloads.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user comedy_nose.

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