BitTorrent is No Longer the ‘King’ of Upstream Internet Traffic * TorrentFreak

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BitTorrent is no longer the "King" of upstream traffic. New data released by Canadian broadband management company Sandvine reveals that cloud storage, YouTube and other apps have taken over. This marks the end of a period of declining dominance that began two decades ago, when BitTorrent reportedly accounted for a third of all web traffic.

Over the past two decades, Internet traffic has skyrocketed, with more bytes being transferred every year.

While this stable trend continues, the types of traffic passing through the pipelines have changed radically.

In 2004, in the pre-Web 2.0 era, research indicated that BitTorrent was responsible for an impressive 35% of all Internet traffic. At the time, file sharing over peer-to-peer networks was the main driver of traffic, as no other service consumed large amounts of bandwidth.

Video streaming killed the Torrent star

Two decades later, these statistics are ancient history. With the growth of video streaming, including services like YouTube, Netflix, and TikTok, file-sharing traffic is nothing more than a drop in the current data set.

Even among pirates, file sharing is no longer as relevant as it once was. Most of today's pirate sites are based on streaming and BitTorrent lost practically all of its "market share" there as well.

As these changes occurred, BitTorrent watchers, including the undersigned, began to focus on upload traffic. This continued to be dominated by BitTorrent for a long time. Two years ago, the file sharing protocol still represented the largest share of global upstream Internet traffic.

The main question was how long this would last. In 2013, BitTorrent still represented approximately one a third of all cargo traffic. He was still the dominant load source in the following years, but had a downward trend, reaching a new minimum of 10% two years ago.

BitTorrent dethroned

This week, Canadian broadband management company Sandvine released its latest World Report on Internet Phenomena which makes it clear that BitTorrent no longer heads any list.

The latest data shows that video and social media are the main drivers of downstream traffic, accounting for more than half of all fixed access and mobile data worldwide. Needless to say, BitTorrent is nowhere to be found on the "best apps" list.

Regarding upstream traffic, BitTorrent still has some relevance in fixed access networks, where it represents 4% of the bandwidth. However, it has been surpassed by cloud storage apps, FaceTime, Google and YouTube. In mobile connections, BitTorrent is no longer in the top ten.

Main upstream applications (fixed/mobile)

The average of 46MB of upstream traffic per subscriber shouldn't impress anyone who shares files. However, since only a small percentage of all subscribers use BitTorrent, the upstream traffic per user is of course much higher.

The end of an era

The report mentions BitTorrent as an "important factor" as traffic is generated by a small number of users. These include hackers, but also academics who use torrents to share large data sets. However, Sandvine also sees the writing on the wall.

“[U]“BitTorrent usage could decline as people use the cloud and take advantage of content that is increasingly available through streaming services,” the report reads.

Finally, it should be noted that not all torrent traffic can be accurately measured. When people use VPN, for example. While this may affect the statistics, the VPN category does not appear in the top download charts, so its use will not change the general conclusion that BitTorrent is no longer dominant.

This marks the end of an era; two decades of BitTorrent's status as a traffic leader in some way, shape or form, disappearing in the rearview mirror. As such, this will likely be the last report of its kind on TorrentFreak. Unless, of course, there is an unforeseen resurgence in the future.

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