Google accounts for 25 percent of all Internet traffic, study finds

Some 60 percent of all Internet-connected devices exchange traffic with Google servers in an average day, research firm Deepfield says

By Zach Miners, IDG News Service |  Networking

The diversified range of new products being built and provided by Google now make the company accountable for nearly 25 percent of all Internet traffic, up from a mere 6 percent just three years ago, according to a new study.

Based on measurements of end device and audience share, that makes the Internet company's reach larger than Facebook, Netflix and Twitter combined, according to Deepfield, a big data and Internet infrastructure research firm.

Some 60 percent of all Internet end devices exchange traffic with Google servers during the course of an average day, said Deepfield, which conducted the ongoing study. The analysis includes computers and mobile devices as well as hundreds of varieties of game consoles, home media appliances and other embedded devices like Apple TV, Roku, Xbox 360 and mobile apps.

The data focus primarily on North America and cover roughly one-fifth of the U.S. consumer Internet, making it "the largest ongoing study of its kind," the group said in a blog post.

Deepfield co-founder Craig Labovitz attributed the meteoric rise in traffic patterns to server growth at Google as well as the success of a range of products such as YouTube, which the company bought for US$1.65 billion in 2006, Android-based mobile devices and various Google cloud services like Google Drive.

Only Netflix has larger bandwidth, Deepfield claims, but Netflix peaks last for only a few hours each evening during prime time hours and during Netflix cache update periods in the morning.

"The odds are, if you have an Internet-connected device, at the end of the day it will be exchanging information with a Google server," Labovitz said in an interview.

Google, for instance, has seen serious growth in its Android mobile operating system since its launch in 2008. At the company's I/O developers conference in May, executives reported that the Android OS had 900 million users.

"While it is old news that Google is big, the sheer scale and dominance of Google in the Internet infrastructure has significant implications on network design and evolution," Deepfield said.

The results, Labovitz said, speak to the growing trend of not just Google, but other major technology companies like Facebook, Netflix and Apple either building out their own networking infrastructure or relying on the hosting services of other companies like Amazon's S3 cloud hosting.

The rise in Google's presence online is strongly linked with the deployment of thousands of Google servers in Internet providers around the world, Deepfield said.

Growth of the company's Google Global Cache (GGC) dedicated server program in the U.S. in particular is an important factor in the trends -- Deepfield's last large-scale study in 2010 only revealed GGC deployments mostly in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

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