The Great Obama Traffic Flood

Streaming video traffic coverage of Obama’s inauguration flooded North American backbones today. Traffic increases varied wildly across US providers with some seeing an overall 5% increase in backbone traffic and others jumping more than 40%.

This multi terabit per second flood represents one of the single largest one day spikes in Internet traffic since ATLAS Internet Observatory monitoring began five years ago. Apparently, US presidents are more popular than pro golfers — the inauguration traffic handily beat the last Internet traffic record set during the US Open.

While most of the US infrastructure appears to have withstood the flood, at least two ISPs showed clear failures and traffic drops during the traffic peaks coincident with Obama’s swearing in (traffic levels started to drop quickly beginning with the subsequent poetry readings).

Chiefly the traffic surge centered on Flash (TCP port 1935) and UDP port 8247 (which includes CNN streaming). In the US, most of these increases focused on consumer (DSL / MSO) providers and transit ISPs (especially those interconnecting large CDNs). Flash traffic spiked by more than 60% in most providers and by 400% in a few of the larger cable operators.

The below graph shows both of these ports across 10 of the largest US ISPs participating in Arbor’s ATLAS Internet Observatory traffic sharing initiative (see NANOG presentation for more details).

Great Obama Traffic Flood

While US backbones saw a large inauguration traffic spike, Europeans and Asian viewers appeared less interested in US politics with an under 1% increase in backbone traffic (in fairness, timezone differences also likely had a significant impact). Our Canadian neighbors proved more interested with a 2-5% growth in backbone traffic today.

Though multiple content providers hosted the traffic streams today, Limelight (AS 22822) was one of the clear winners — ATLAS data across the ten US consumers ISPs show a massive increase in AS22822 traffic (median of 160%). Akamai showed a more modest increase of 17%.

The Obama inauguration marks a historic day in US politics and a remarkable day for the popularity of Internet streaming video. We look forward to watching more great things to come.

(Co-authored with Scott Iekel-Johnson)

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18 Responses to “The Great Obama Traffic Flood”

January 20, 2009 at 6:53 pm, Schratboy said:

And with every MB of data streamed today, corporations lost millions of dollars in employee productivity.

January 20, 2009 at 7:47 pm, UPDATED: Is the Web Breaking Under the Inaugural Strain? said:

[…] traffic loads, check out NewTeeVee’s post on the live streaming data or telco equipment maker Arbor Network’s view on how U.S. ISPs fielded up to 3.5 terabits of data per second at the peak of the […]

January 21, 2009 at 6:40 am, Rainer Gerhards said:

Hi, what a figure! That’s very interesting. I am from Europe and I think one reason you didn’t see so much Europe traffic was that a lot of media over here used local streaming servers. But I have no insight, so I may be wrong (at least it was a *big* event over here in Germany, and I think employment productivity was actually quite well spent getting some motivation form this event).

I have also a question, which I hope you can grant. I have just started a Germany-language blog at http://www.kosmologs.de/kosmo/blog/cassini . I’d really like to reproduce your graphic over there. Would you grant me permission to do so?

January 21, 2009 at 1:03 pm, security.dpbeck.com » Traffic spikes on UDP port 8247. said:

[…] you’re going to find quite a few pages regarding this same phenomenon. This one is good. This was not the case yesterday. I searched for quite a while until I came across something that […]

January 21, 2009 at 11:04 am, Rainer Gerhards said:

Quick update: it looks like Internet Traffic in Europe was actually much as usual. A friend pointed me to some European IP exchanges (Germany, Netherlands, UK), and you don’t see large spikes. I have reproduced the German figure in my blog, in case you are interested:

http://www.kosmologs.de/kosmo/blog/cassini/it/2009-01-21/obama-internet-vereidigung

The page is in German, but it the large yellow figure at the bottom is traffic at DE-CIX, probably the largest German IP exchange for Mon 01/19 to 01/21. There is a 6-hour time zone difference, so you want to look at 1800 hours in the chart.

I thought that may be interesting. Thanks again for your info! Rainer

January 21, 2009 at 3:06 pm, The A to E » Barack takes the world by social media storm said:

[…] The inauguration was reportedly the cause of a large traffic spike, with US telco providers reporting internet traffic increases of between 5% and 40% per cent; see Arbor Networks’ post on the ‘Great Obama Traffic Flood’. […]

January 21, 2009 at 12:18 pm, Simon Leinen said:

> And with every MB of data streamed today, corporations lost millions of dollars in employee productivity.

Right on:

So with every GB of data streamed today, corporations lost billions of dollars in employee productivity!

And with every TB of data streamed today, corporations lost trillions of dollars in employee productivity!!

And with every PB of data streamed today, corporations lost quadrillions of dollars in employee productivity!!!

Note that the region under the peak in the traffic graph is *multiple* petabytes: e.g. 2.222 Tb/s for two hours is 2 PB.

January 21, 2009 at 6:28 pm, Backbone-News » The Internet and Obama: Yes we can! said:

[…] provides some valuable information at the Arbor Networks “Security to the Core” blog. According to their measurements (Arbor Networks collects flow data from many Tier1 providers), the […]

January 22, 2009 at 2:53 am, The Great Internet Obamalypse - Presidential inauguration breaks bandwidth records, but not networks | remove the labels | Gadgets and Life said:

[…] traffic since ATLAS Internet Observatory monitoring began five years ago,” says Arbor’s Craig Labovitz. Traffic generated by the inauguration “handily” beat the last Internet traffic record […]

January 23, 2009 at 5:56 pm, Inaugural Internet Traffic Surge | Mr. Potter's IT world said:

[…] article on the spike in internet traffic during the […]

January 24, 2009 at 5:45 pm, Americans Stop and Listen | Monkeys Review Celebrities said:

[…] reached its highest level ever during the speech. For some cable carriers, Internet traffic spiked by over 400 percent during the event, easily topping the record set last year during the US […]

January 24, 2009 at 5:04 pm, Americans Stop and Listen - Attuworld.com said:

[…] reached its highest level ever during the speech. For some cable carriers, Internet traffic spiked by over 400 percent during the event, easily topping the record set last year during the US […]

January 26, 2009 at 12:49 pm, WiscNet Wire » Blog Archive » Inauguration & Streaming Video said:

[…] (Source) […]

January 27, 2009 at 3:31 pm, In the Limelight » Blog Archive » 9,008,990 said:

[…] all of those streams, its probably not a surprise that we were called one of the “clear winners” on Inauguration Day, with ATLAS data across the ten US […]

January 29, 2009 at 10:08 pm, The Great Internet Obamalypse - Presidential inauguration breaks bandwidth records, but not networks | Voip Blog said:

[…] traffic since ATLAS Internet Observatory monitoring began five years ago,” says Arbor’s Craig Labovitz. Traffic generated by the inauguration “handily” beat the last Internet traffic record […]

June 19, 2009 at 4:02 pm, David said:

am from Europe and I think one reason you didn’t see so much Europe traffic was that a lot of media over here used local streaming servers. But I have no insight, so I may be wrong (at least it was a *big* event over here in Germany, and I think employment productivity was actually quite well spent getting some

July 07, 2009 at 12:49 pm, Jackson Memorial sure to Thrill the Internet « Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era? said:

[…] Memorial sure to Thrill the Internet Barack Obama and his inauguration was a test run.  Now, we are waiting to see if the ‘net can stand up to The […]

July 01, 2010 at 5:23 pm, Copa do Mundo e a Internet: E o tráfego Internet, está mais rápido ? | Coruja de TI said:

[…] Internet, Arbornetworks […]

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