Peak internet traffic growth continued to climb, even from record highs set in 2020. Data from Comcast released Thursday shows just how much consumers used the internet last year. Peak downstream traffic rose 11% and peak upstream traffic rose 5% in 2021 compared with 2020 levels.
Increased traffic — upstream and downstream — for advertisers means greater opportunities to reach consumers online and as they walk into physical stores.
Upstream traffic refers to data sent from a computer or network, but also may include data sent over the internet when playing an online multiplayer video game. Downstream traffic refers to data that is received by a computer of network.
While Comcast didn’t break out advanced advertising as its own category in the network data report, Elad Nafshi, EVP and chief network officer at Comcast Cable, said “video consumption continues to be far-and-away the largest driver of traffic on our network, and we don’t see that trend changing soon, as people consume more and more video delivered in ever-increasing fidelity and performance.”
Entertainment activities dominated peak network traffic, similar to 2020, with video streaming accounting for 71% of downstream traffic. Gaming contributed 11% to network traffic, and web browsing contributed 9%. The other category contributed 7%, and updated for software and stuff contributed 2%.
Peak internet use times shifted from mid-morning in the beginning of the year to late evening by the end of the year, which reflects pre-pandemic patterns, according to the Comcast data.
Comcast made a $4.2 billion investment to strengthen and expand the company’s network last year, taking totals up to more than $30 billion during the past 10 years. Advances in network technology, including future proofing the network, smart software and virtualization technologies along with key steps toward the next phase of the network, 10G broadband, which companies consumer the network that will power what the company calls the data-driven fourth industrial revolution.
Comcast uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to help increase its capacity and determine network bottlenecks.