Streaming video fuels demand for capacity

Dylan Bushell-Embling
11 Mar 2010

Mobile data bandwidth consumption grew 72% in second half of last year, driven by rapid uptake of streaming video. According to a report from Allot Communications, the global surge in bandwidth usage is attributed the growing popularity of high-bandwidth content and the increased availability of mobile internet devices.

Mobile bandwidth consumption in APAC expanded 86% compared to the Americas, where bandwidth usage increased by 59%. Faster subscriber growth in APAC, coupled with the presence of technological leaders like Japan and Korea, and the rapid spread of 3G networks all contributed to this growth.

Ovum analyst Nathan Burley told Telecom Asia this growth trend is likely to continue in the region. "Increasingly, a larger proportion of global data consumption will come from APAC."

APAC last year accounted for 116 million of the 342 million HSPA/HSPA+ connections worldwide, according to the GSMA. The subscribers are spread across 294 commercially live HSPA networks in 123 countries, and 37 live HSPA+ networks. Wireless Intelligence predicts that HSPA subscribers will increase by nearly 13 million per month this year, up from nine million per month in 2009.

The relative popularity of the different forms of online content have changed over time, said Allot spokesperson Jonathon Gordon, with HTTP streaming replacing HTTP browsing as the most globally dominant application.

Streaming video has truly hit the mainstream, he said, and is now the single most influential factor driving the need to boost network capacity. The bandwidth consumed by HTTP streaming grew by 99% during the half, with video sharing site YouTube alone accounting for 10% of global usage. The growing popularity of HD video streaming, as well as the proliferation of competitors to YouTube, is the likely root cause for this growth.

Gordon told Telecom Asia that he expects streaming video to continue its rapid rate of growth. "Even more so with HD and 3D video on the way," he added.

By contrast, HTTP browsing experienced a slowdown in growth to 58%. P2P usage grew almost 40% - but this rate was dwarfed by HTTP downloads, which increased in popularity by 73%. This indicates that downloads have become a feasible alternative to P2P for the sharing of large files, Allot said.


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