Video 'grows P2P traffic by 30% a year'

Global peer-to-peer internet traffic will increase by 33% per year because of consumer demand for high definition video, according to a report by Cisco.

The growth of downloads and views of video, and the move from standard to high definition bitrates, will cause a significant increase in bandwidth usage, says the communications technology firm.

Contrary to predictions that networks will struggle to cope, however, Cisco's white paper is optimistic they can be successfully developed.

"In North America, internet video has jumped from 10 percent of consumer internet traffic in 2006 to 24 percent of traffic in 2007," it says. "In response to this remarkable development, many service providers are accelerating their capacity upgrade plans.

"But the internet is not collapsing under the weight of YouTube traffic, nor is it likely to. Global online video traffic is still relatively modest at 18% of consumer internet traffic and 13% of total internet traffic."

Peer-to-peer video will grow 33% per year, until 2011 when the growth will slow to 30%, Cisco predicts. However, traffic growth will continue to get more rapid because of applications such as IPTV and video conferencing.

IPTV services are more widely available in the US. The Cisco paper continued: "Internet video-to-TV will increase by more than a factor of 12 from 2007 to 2011. Internet video-to-PC will nearly quintuple over the same four-year period.

"Internet-enabled set-top boxes are currently available for purchase by consumers, and will be increasingly deployed by IPTV and (later) cable providers. While internet video-to-PC is dominated by short-form and lower-quality content, video-to-TV traffic will be composed by longer-form and higher-definition content, which means that the far smaller number of video-to-TV streamers and downloads will generate a larger amount of traffic than the greater number of video-to-PC viewers."

Earlier this month, AT&T's vice president for regulation, Jim Cicconi, said traffic growth would be "butting up against the physical capacity of the internet by 2010".