Last year, Belnet recorded an average data traffic of 198 gigabits per second on the BNIX platform. That's a 13 percent decrease compared to 2021. "These figures don’t surprise us", says Stefan Gulinck, Network Architect at Belnet and co-responsible for BNIX. "Internet traffic increased tremendously in 2020 as a result of the corona crisis and reached even higher numbers in 2021, with an average traffic of 224 Gbit/s and peaks up to 638 Gbit/s. The measures imposing working from home during the crisis boosted video call traffic, for example, while quarantined people were massively streaming to kill time. We had already noticed how the lift of those measures lowered traffic on BNIX at the end of 2021, and now the same has happened for 2022 as a whole. So the decrease is actually more of a normalization of Internet traffic after the corona measures: if we compare the September-December period in 2022 with the same period in 2021, we even see a very slight increase in traffic (see graph).
Still a huge increase compared to 2019
The relativity of the ‘drop’ in 2022 becomes even more evident when comparing it to 2019, when the average traffic was only 160 Gbit/s – that’s 40 percent less than in 2022. According to Stefan Gulinck, there’s a logical reason for that: "On a professional level, working from home and video calls are here to stay, and in recent years organizations have been transferring huge amounts of data from on-premise systems to the cloud. In addition, we’re consuming more and more digital content in ever higher resolution in our private lives. Of course, there are other issues that affect traffic on BNIX, such as the slightly fluctuating number of participants and ‘direct peering’ initiatives, but on the whole the trends are very clear.
One such trend is the definite disappearance of the strong evening peak. Today, Internet traffic plateaus every weekday from morning (starting at 8am) to evening (until at least 10 pm). This trend can also largely be explained by the rise of the cloud in the business world, which generates massive amounts of data traffic, especially during the day.
Peak during national strike
BNIX recorded its highest peak in 2022 on Wednesday, 9 November, when 480 gigabits per second passed at 5pm. "A peak is always caused by a combination of factors, and it is very likely that the national strike – when even more people were working from home due to the disruption of public transport – had something to do with that. Wednesday being a popular work-from-home day as it is, might have added to this.
Busy BNIX year
On an operational level, 2022 was a busy year for BNIX. In June, it joined forces with its Luxembourg counterpart LU-CIX to optimize Internet traffic between the two countries. So far, seven participants have already connected via one platform to the other, and an upgrade of the two existing 10G connections in 2023 is on the table. Professionalization continued in October when BNIX was accepted as a MANRS participant. The Mutually Agreed Norms for Routing Security provides standards and guidelines to improve routing security on the Internet. Joining MANRS demonstrates BNIX’ commitment to a more secure and sustainable Internet. In addition, BNIX also launched IXP Manager. That platform, the most reliable of its kind worldwide, allows BNIX member organizations to monitor their port(s), find out who their key peering partners are, and manage the use of their port(s) more smoothly.
Solid steps were also taken in the planned overall renewal of the BNIX platform, although that project is running a bit behind schedule. Dirk Haex, Director Engineering & Operations at Belnet: “The main cause is the shortage of components that plagues various industries worldwide, including IT. We’re experiencing delays in the delivery of crucial hardware. This is partly due to our high quality requirements in this area, which we do not want to compromise on. And we don't need to: the renewal is intended to make BNIX completely ready for the Internet needs of the future, and BNIX still meets current needs perfectly. At this moment, bearing in mind the necessary reservations around hardware issues, we expect to complete the renewal in the second quarter of 2023.”