Cisco: Puppy cams are to blame for exploding network demands

It’s no surprise that network demand is growing more quickly than ever before, with the increase in online mobile devices and the popularity of streaming music and television programming. One of the primary driving forces in this explosive growth that has caught global broadband companies off guard, however, is the amount of “puppy cam traffic”, or fixed online video sources that people use to monitor the activities and antics of their pets.

Robert Pepper, Cisco vice president for global technology policy, mentioned the unexpected role that ambient video sources are playing while presenting findings from the company’s Visual Networking Index at the 33rd Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) in Hawaii last week.

Cisco: Puppy cams are to blame for exploding network demands

“This a much bigger deal than anyone thought,” said Pepper, also noting that of the most popular online video websites in Europe last year, “three of the top 20 are ambient video, and these didn’t exist a year ago.”

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One of these sites mentioned specifically by Pepper during his presentation was the Shiba Inu Puppy Cam, started by a San Francisco couple in 2008 simply to keep an eye on their pups while they were at work during the day. In the first month the camera was live on UStream, it hosted 3 million viewers for a total of 1.2 million hours of viewing time. In fact, Pepper stated that the number of hours internet users have viewed the Shiba Inu Puppy Cam has surpassed that of all of ESPN online video.

Thanks to the popularity of the Shiba Inu Puppy Cam, plenty of other internet users have started their own “pet cams”, “nanny cams”, and other security camera streams. In 2010, video traffic volume exceeded that of peer-to-peer for the first time ever.

According to the Cisco report, global IP traffic is expected to increase to 63.9 exabytes per month, over four times the volume seen in 2009. Wireless networks are going need more spectrum, Pepper says, “and fiber to every antenna, fiber to every village — a T-1 connection to the antenna is not going to cut it.”

Either networks are going to have to improve, or something is going to have to give in this scenario. While this type of streaming is cheap and easily accessible now, we may begin to see higher costs associated with it, or even with network usage in general. Will innovation keep up with consumer demands? It looks like we’ll soon find out.

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