Analysis of traffic profiles
Exploring uplink and downlink patterns in a sample of networks
- Traffic measurements in a sample of networks show that uplink traffic constitutes, on average, around 8 percent of total traffic volume.
- For cloud-storage services, the traffic split is on average 54 percent in uplink and 46 percent in downlink.
- Video traffic has significantly more downlink than uplink traffic – 97 percent and 3 percent respectively.
Cloud-storage and communication services have largest uplink share
The uplink share of total traffic over cellular networks can vary by area type, such as dense urban versus rural areas,1 as well as location. For example, visitors to sports events or concerts frequently share their experiences by uploading video clips and photos, increasing the share of uplink traffic at those locations.
Comparing downlink to uplink traffic shares for different application categories in a few selected mobile networks in Europe, the Middle East and the Americas shows that video traffic has a 97 percent downlink and 3 percent uplink split. As expected, video has the largest share of traffic in downlink across all networks, with social networking typically being the second-largest application category for downlink. The categories with the highest share of uplink traffic in the four sampled networks are cloud-storage services, communication services (including messaging, VoIP and video calls) and video. In two of the networks, cloud-storage services have the highest share of uplink traffic with 15 and 21 percent. In the other two networks, communication services have the highest share of uplink traffic with 23 and 26 percent. In the networks where communication services have the highest share of uplink traffic, video has the second highest share with 13 and 14 percent.
Figure 11: Share of traffic volume in downlink and uplink per application category
With 97 percent, video traffic has significantly more downlink than uplink traffic.
This correlation indicates user habits and needs that lead to high usage of communication services and sharing of video content in the uplink. For instance, applications like WhatsApp or Viber offer video calling as a popular feature, and sharing of videos in these apps continues to grow each year. The more communication rises, the more video traffic rises (and vice-versa).
Video has highest share of traffic on all device types
The share of traffic volume per application category for three different types of devices – smartphones, tablets and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) devices – was measured across all the sampled service providers. It shows that video traffic consistently has the highest share of traffic volume, in the range of 30–60 percent, regardless of the device type.
The smartphones category stands out for its significantly higher share of traffic in the social networking and communication categories, compared to traffic on tablet and FWA devices, while web browsing is slightly more common on tablets and FWA devices compared to smartphones. Software downloads and gaming have a relatively higher share of traffic on tablets and FWA devices.
Uplink share of total traffic was on average around 8 percent in the sampled networks.
Figure 12: Share of traffic volume per application category per device type
The application mix and share of traffic in the sampled networks might not represent the absolute shares of the total traffic, as some traffic could not be classified. For example, the absolute share of video traffic is presumably higher across all networks as part of it is included in the categories “Other” and “Social networking” (for example, Instagram feeds, reels and stories). The analysis is based on one week of data collection.
1. Ericsson Mobility Report, ”Exploring how traffic patterns drive network evolution” (June 2023).
2. “Other” includes uncategorized traffic and traffic from services that have too small a share to be significant compared to the categorized segments in this figure. A large share of “other” is presumably video traffic.