Cloudflare dishes up the stats on internet traffic in 2023

Web's growing, Google's gloating, and US bots are roaming

Cloudflare says that global internet traffic grew 25 percent this year, while Google regained its crown as the most visited web destination. Only a third of IPv6-capable requests were actually made over IPv6, and a third of all global bot traffic came from the US.

These figures are drawn from the 2023 Year in Review report from the content delivery network, which by some estimates is used for its web security services in more than 20 percent of internet traffic.

The data is derived from the Cloudflare Radar service, launched in 2020, used to monitor traffic and usage trends across its own network. Cloudflare itself takes in more than 120 countries/regions, and claims to serve an average of more than 50 million HTTP/HTTPS requests per second.

That growth of 25 percent in global internet traffic is in line with last year's figure, Cloudflare says, and shows that the internet is still expanding at a fair rate as more and more devices are connected and there are more websites, applications, and services to consume.

Thanks to its widely distributed footprint, Cloudflare says it can see regional trends such as a drop in traffic in Muslim countries coinciding with celebrations for the end of Ramadan, and in Mauritania, where government-directed shutdowns occurred earlier this year.

Google was the most popular internet service destination overall, while previous leader TikTok has now fallen back to fourth place behind Facebook and Apple.

Cloudflare segments internet services into categories, showing that (surprise, surprise) OpenAI was the most popular among generative AI websites; and Globo was the most popular news service, pushing the BBC into second place. WhatsApp was the most popular messaging service, while Roblox is listed as the most popular gaming site, ahead of Xbox Live.

Looking at traffic from mobile devices, Cloudflare says more than two-thirds of this was from Android-based devices, with that figure rising to upwards of 90 percent in some countries, mostly in Africa, Oceania/Asia, and South America. In contrast, traffic from devices running Apple's iOS never tops 70 percent anywhere, but those where it is above 50 percent are (unsurprisingly) high-income countries such as Denmark, Australia, Japan, and Canada.

According to Cloudflare, on average 42 percent of global internet traffic came from mobile devices, but this went up to more than half in more than 80 countries. These tended to be in the Middle East/Africa, Asia-Pacific, and South/Central America regions. Perhaps ironically, 80 percent of the internet traffic in Finland, home to smartphone pioneer Nokia, came from desktop devices, according to the 2023 report.

Starlink was given a special mention, despite the satellite broadband service only being available for a couple of years. This is because traffic across it more than tripled this year, and has also shown rapid growth wherever the service has been activated. Cloudflare's report does not offer the actual figures behind these claims, however.

Another evergreen topic for Reg readers is IPv6 and its gradual adoption since the official "World IPv6 launch day" back in 2012. According to Cloudflare, this has so far reached just 33.75 percent of traffic across its network, while IPv4 requests still accounted for 66.25 percent.

Cloudflare's report also considers internet speeds around the world, and the winners might not be those countries you expect. Iceland came out top with an average download speed of 282.5 Mbps, average upload speed of 179.9 Mbps, plus lowest average latency at 9.6 ms. Others with high speeds include South Korea and Spain.

The report also said 33.2 percent of bot traffic originates in the US. Cloudflare points out that its definition includes any non-human internet traffic, and says these aren't necessarily malicious sources; it maintains a list of verified bots. The next highest after the US is Germany on 8 percent, with everyone else basically just a bit player.

Any Reg readers interested to see more of these facts and figures, some illustrated with graphs and charts, can head over to the Cloudflare Radar 2023 Year In Review webpage. ®

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