It might not come as any surprise that streaming videos makes up a huge percentage of the Internet’s traffic. Netflix is the largest consumer of Internet bandwidth in North America with 32% of all downstream traffic. In a recent report put together by Akamai, The Akamai Network: A Platform for High-Performance Internet Applications, Harvard University, and University of Massachusetts researchers suggest that “it is reasonable to expect that throughput requirements for some single video events will reach roughly 50 to 100 Tbps” within two to five years. One Terabyte is 1,000 Gigabytes. The low end of that estimate represents an increase of about 1,349% from 2010’s peak.
“Because of the limited capacity at the Internet’s various bottlenecks, even an extremely well-provisioned and well-connected data center can only expect to have no more than a few hundred Gbps of real throughput to end users,” the report reads. “This means that a content delivery network (CDN) or other network with even 50 well-provisioned, highly connected data centers still falls well short of achieving the 100 Tbps needed to support video’s near-term growth.”
The report has a lot of very technical detail about how CDNs (and the Internet in general) work. Bottom line? Overall, Internet bandwidth will have to continue to grow to support what we want to use it for.