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South Africa's Internet Toll Road: Netflix, YouTube, and TikTok Lead Traffic Surge

Published September 21, 2023
9 months ago

South Africa's fixed-broadband arena is witnessing an amplified surge in internet traffic. Preeminent internet service providers (ISPs), such as Telkom and Herotel, report massive traffic predominantly attributed to video streaming platforms such as Netflix, YouTube, and TikTok.

These substantial increments in web traffic can be traced back to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. A combination of expanded broadband connectivity, enhanced home fibre speeds, and many people working and learning remotely have been instrumental catalysts. Specific data points underscore these facts, like NAPAfrica, South Africa's largest internet exchange point, registering a peak throughput of 3.6 Terabits per second on 11 September 2023.

Telkom primarily indicated that out of the top 30 bandwidth consumption protocols on its network, the top 15 comprised exclusively video streaming applications or websites. The top five ranking protocols on Telkom's network were; Netflix, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram Video, and DStv Now, consuming roughly 80% of combined tracked protocols. Netflix, YouTube, and TikTok accounted for 37%, 22%, and 12%, of the web traffic consumed on Telkom's network, respectively. In comparison, Instagram video consumption is on an ascent, while DStv Now and Disney+ recorded slightly reduced consumption.

Similarly, Herotel's largest traffic sources comprised Netflix, accounting for 21.7%, followed by Google and Meta Platforms at 17.8% and 14.7% respectively. To accommodate the growing traffic, Herotel reported augmenting its network's capacity to keep pace with data traffic and usage trends over the last few years.

This escalating internet demand has generated a windfall for South African ISPs; however, adapting to the overwhelming traffic volumes calls for strategic planning and robust infrastructure development to ensure service integrity.

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