Encrypted traffic to hit 80% of all data in some mobile networks in 2016

80% of all data on some mobile networks may be encrytped by end-2016. But the rise in total encrypted data traffic on mobile networks can be attributed to just a few mainstream apps and content sources.

60% of data traffic in mobile networks in Latin and North America is now encrypted, and some networks will see that rise to 80% this year, according to analysis by Sandvine.

Sandvine has released the edition of its 2016 Global Internet Phenomena report that focusses on American fixed and mobile networks. The report is based on data gathered from a cross section of Sandvine’s customers over a one month period.

The report found that in North American mobile networks encrypted traffic accounted for 64% of all data. Sandvine notes that some apps that have held out so far from encrypting their traffic may now do so – following YouTube and Netflix’s decision to encrypt most of their content. High usage of Google and Facebook apps in Latin America means that 66% of all mobile data traffic is now encrypted.

The company said that it expected as much as 80% of data on some mobile networks may be encrypted by the end of 2016, with 70% of all  internet traffic encrypted by the end of 2016. That still presents a significant challenge to those mobile operators who rely on packet classification techniques to do things such as optimise traffic flows and apply policy rules in the network.

However – the dominance of certain mainstream apps – YouTube (which encrypts 9% of traffic), Facebook, Google – in fact mitigates that seeming issue – as operators can use other signatures to determine which app data on their network belongs to. By doing this they can determine the majority of traffic on the network, leaving only the “long tail” of SSL-secured data to work on.

In-app video on the rise in North America

The report found that in North America, real time entertainment (YouTube etc) dominates the downstream flow in mobile networks, accounting for 40% of traffic. However, the addition of in-app video calling features has boosted Communication and Social Networking’s share of traffic to 8% and 25% of downstream traffic.

Sandvine said: “The main reason for this is likely driven by both categories of applications increasingly adding video components to their services. Over time mobile messaging apps have evolved from text messaging, to include audio calls, and now video calls, while at the same time traditional social networks have integrated autoplaying video, and even live-casting to help drive engagement and increase advertising revenue.”

Per-application, the heaviest contributor to traffic is still YouTube – if you count uplink and a downlink together. Facebook is second, with Instagram and Snapchat the next highest.

You can read the full report here.