In early 2008 British broadband users were consuming an average 18MB of bandwidth each per day according to Point Topic’s recent consumer research. “This comes to 280 odd terabytes per day in the UK and is equivalent to around 100 petabytes a year,” says John Bosnell, Senior Analyst at Point Topic.
That amounts to only 550MB of data per month per user; this is well below what the overwhelming majority of broadband packages offer.
While most users use their broadband to shop, check email, use banking services or just surf there is a small percentage of users that account for the bulk of bandwidth gobbled up in the UK each day. Dreaded by some and lauded by others are the peer to peer file sharers.
“There are plenty of different estimates as to how much of this traffic is down to P2P, it’s primarily a matter of definition and there are as many interpretations as there are analysts and ISPs,” according to Bosnell.
“Cisco reports evidence in the US that P2P accounts for less than half of total traffic and dropping, while Europe was around 50% in 2007 but due to increase slightly. Other sources have P2P growing rapidly, depending on exactly what is classed as P2P,” says Bosnell.
However the evidence from Point Topic’s most recent consumer broadband survey is that the proportion of consumers engaging in peer to peer file sharing is declining, from 11% in June 2007 to 9% this year.
“Innovations like the BBC iPlayer and other broadcast related streaming services along with the increased number of legal download sites, particularly for music, have reduced the drive for users to download data via P2P sites,” says Bosnell.
“While there is evidence that illegal file sharers are moving into the legal mainstream as an increasing amount of content is more easily and cheaply available it’s likely that younger users, who have been brought up with access to free music, videos and other files, will grant P2P a stay of execution for the foreseeable future,” concludes Bosnell.