Netflix dominates UK data, WhatsApp rules Africa

Econet Wireless's WhatsApp bundles include bite-sized internet plans priced to meet the needs of the market.

Econet Wireless's WhatsApp bundles include bite-sized internet plans priced to meet the needs of the market.

Sandvine, a provider of intelligent broadband network solutions for fixed and mobile operators, has released its biannual internet traffic trends report, titled Global Internet Phenomena Report 1H2014. The report is based on data from a selection of Sandvine’s 250-plus communications service provider (CSP) customers spanning North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Caribbean and Latin America and Asia-Pacific.

“Just over two years after its launch, Netflix has become the second-largest driver of traffic on fixed access networks in the UK and Ireland,” said Sandvine president and chief executive Dave Caputo. 

“This rapid ascent underscores how important it is that operators have business intelligence solutions in place to accurately measure and monitor the impact that over-the-top services have on their networks.”

The biggest shift in Africa was the domination of data use in Africa by WhatsApp – or at least, Africa on the Econet network.

Econet Wireless developed and launched an unlimited WhatsApp bundle, using Sandvine’s usage management solution implemented with Sandvine’s local partner, Three6Five Technologies. The WhatsApp bundles include varying plans – 30c daily, 95c a week and $3 a month – to offer bite-sized internet plans priced to meet the needs of the market demographic.

“Sandvine’s leading business intelligence and service innovation capabilities enable us to better understand emerging trends on our network and act quickly to rapidly introduce new, innovative services that are highly valued by our customers and that give us a competitive edge in our market,” said products and services general manager Leon de Fleuriot.

Econet subscribers have adopted the unlimited WhatsApp bundle in vast numbers since February 2014 and WhatsApp now accounts for more than 23% of network activity.
The bundle allows subscribers to share photos, videos, voice notes, locations, files and attachments via the real-time application, as often as they want, for a fixed price per month, week or even day.

“Many subscribers are using first-generation smartphones and talk and text plans. This bundle has opened up an opportunity for Econet to launch service plans that incentivise subscribers to move to data-driven services that are affordable to users and profitable to the network,” said Sandvine chief technology officer Don Bowman.

The Sandvine report contains findings from fixed and mobile networks around the world, including:

On-demand video
North American subscribers who exhibit “cord-cutting” behavior (top 15th percentile of video users) are dominating network usage:

  • Consuming on average 212GB a month, more than seven times the 29GB of a typical subscriber;
  • Viewing the equivalent of 100 hours of video each month; and
  • Accounting for the majority (54%) of total monthly network traffic.

In the United Kingdom and Ireland, Netflix is now the second-largest source of  traffic during the peak evening hours, accounting for more than 17.8% of downstream fixed access traffic.

The availability of high bitrate super HD content to all Netflix subscribers in North America increased Netflix’s peak downstream traffic share to 34.2% from 31.6%. Amazon Instant Video continues to gain share, but still only accounts for 1.9% of downstream traffic

Snapchat generates more traffic than any other third-party messaging app on North American mobile networks, and on one network accounted for an astonishing 12% of traffic on New Year’s Eve.

On an African mobile network where the majority of subscribers have talk and text plans, WhatsApp accounts for more than 23% of traffic owing to the introduction of a low-cost, unlimited access plan for the service that is designed to drive data adoption.

On several long-term evolution or 4G networks in Asia, third-party messaging apps such as Line or WeChat are used by mroe than 40% of mobile subscribers each hour.

Live Streaming
Twitch.TV, a live streaming service where video gamers watch each other play, has established itself among the top-15 applications on many fixed networks across the globe, and now generates more traffic than HBO GO on US networks.

During the Fifa World Cup 2014, live streaming of matches is predicted to account for more than 40% of network traffic on some Latin American mobile networks.  

“While the app of choice varies drastically between continents and countries, this latest report makes it clear that mobile messaging matters,” said Caputo. 

“To remain competitive in the marketplace, mobile operators must be able to create and implement innovative service plans rapidly in order to meet the ever-changing demands of subscribers and combat declining SMS revenues.” – Gadget   

Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA.

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