File-Sharing Is Still Surging. Then Again, So Is Everything Else

Maybe the boom-boom days of file-sharing increases are over, but swapping volumes are still gaining in the double-digits.

Then again, so is everything else, including on-demand video and audio, illegal locker sharing, and for that matter, mobile media consumption. In fact, on-demand video is now beating file-sharing growth volumes, according to Cisco’s just-published Visual Networking Index (VNI).

This is the latest attempt to measure the dizzying surge of internet and mobile traffic, and the broader numbers are staggering.  Cisco says that IP traffic has grown eight-fold over the past 5 years, and will grow fourfold by 2015. That is a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32 percent between 2010 and 2015, a surge we’re experiencing in realtime.  “In 2015, the gigabyte equivalent of all movies ever made will cross global IP networks every 5 minutes,” Cisco found.

This is a huge pie that keeps growing, though as of 2010, file-swapping (which spans everything from Limewire-style swapping to BitTorrent trading) was no longer the largest bandwidth hog.  Instead, on-demand video will account for 50 percent of internet traffic by 2012, and easily outsize file-swapping by 2015.

That sort of surge was recently reaffirmed by YouTube, which reported that 48 hours of video are now being uploaded every minute.  “It would take over 5 years to watch the amount of video that will cross global IP networks every second in 2015,” Cisco asserts.

And music?  Cisco didn’t specifically break out music volumes, though content like music videos are a massive source of traffic on destinations like YouTube.  The same is true on file-swapping channels, though huge file-based competition comes from formats like games, adult video, and full-length videos.