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).
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)