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London Internet Exchange Sees Record UK Traffic of 6.05Tbps

Monday, April 12th, 2021 (8:00 am) - Score 4,200
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The London Internet Exchange (LINX), which through its switches handles a key chunk of UK and global data traffic from 965 members (broadband ISPs, mobile operators etc.), has today reported that they hit a new total traffic peak last week of 6.05Tbps (Terabits per second).

The new 6.05Tbps peak, which was officially recorded on Tuesday 6th April 2021 at 8:35pm, excludes traffic passed between LINX members using the Private Interconnect service. According to LINX, this service is traditionally popular with larger content networks and is currently used by over 100 LINX members, currently at 887 individual private peering point to point connections, many of which are 100G ports.

LINX has a number of exchanges across the UK and their biggest two are based in London, hence the name. In keeping with that a new maximum peak also occurred on LINX’s primary exchange in London, LON1, as this platform alone reached 5.17Tbps on the same day.

We should point out that LINX does not even remotely provide a complete overview of the internet traffic flow from all ISPs (e.g. BT alone sees traffic peaks of around 20Tbps), but they do offer a useful indication of how much extra traffic is flowing around as peaks seen on other networks tend to show up in their data.

During 2020, LINX experienced a ripple of new maximum traffic peaks across each of their internet exchange points in the UK, US and in the Middle East, with March 2020 peaking at 4.30Tbps. In addition to the working from home and remote learning demand due to COVID-19, many of these peaks related to an increase in online gaming, seeing peaks as large updates get released for games such as Fortnite and Call of Duty.

LINX Traffic for 6th April 2021


It’s not presently clear precisely why the latest 6th April peak occurred, although LINX believe it may be related to people watching live football streams as you can see a slight dip at around the ‘half-time’ point. Now, just for some context, the graph below shows how traffic passing over their exchanges has risen over the past two years.

LINX Traffic from April 2019 to April 2021


You can clearly see the impact of several COVID19 related lockdowns above, from March 2020 onwards, as we quickly move from a gradually increasing scale to a sudden surge. Christmas is clearly reflected as the dip just before the most recent lockdown hit in January 2021 (we often see traffic fall away around Christmas as people have other things to do).

Jennifer Holmes, CCO for LINX, said:

“This time last year we were quickly adjusting to the new virtual set up as lockdown hit. We saw the first of many traffic peaks, and we have continued to respond and manage the demand from our members for increased capacity.

To hit 6Tbps across our network is really satisfying, and considering the amount of traffic which also passes across our Private Interconnect service, this is a huge increase from this time last year. The past year has been demanding, but we are pleased to say we have kept up with capacity demands, as well as completing some major projects along the way.”

We should point out that demand for data is constantly rising and so new peaks of usage are being set all the time by every ISP. In previous years’ data from Ofcom has tended to indicate that consumer broadband usage alone typically grows by 30%+ each year, although the global pandemic and multiple lockdowns did accelerate such trends during 2020.

The majority of broadband ISPs and mobile operators are comfortable having to tackle such pressures on their networks. Many also employ Content Delivery Networks (CDN), which help to cache popular content closer to their end-users and this reduces the strain on external capacity links.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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17 Responses
  1. Moss says:

    Activision (studios & Devs) are absolutely terrible at optimising the amount of storage Call of Duty needs.

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      Yes it’s pretty bad when even minor updates require colossal “patches.”

  2. Kevin Nash says:

    Traffic from the UK is aggregated in London. Traffic from Northern Ireland and Scotland is sent to London and back most of the time. A waste of capacity and energy. UK internet infrastructure isn’t ready for future that needs extreme low latency between users…

    1. 125us says:

      You’re free to submit an RFC to the IAB or IETFif you want to fundamentally change how the Internet works. It will have to be good though, they’re quite expert in what they do.

      Two questions to ponder before you do;
      – What evidence do you have to support your comment about London?
      – What evidence do you have to support your opinion about low latency needs?

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      If you notice Kevin, the stacked graph above includes a big chunk for LINX Scotland.

    3. Dave says:

      @Mark IXScotland usually peaks at under 3Gbps. The greenish colour on the stacked graph is actually LINX LON2. IXScotland isn’t even visible on the stacked graph. They have chosen some crap colours for their stacking.

      You can find the individual IX graphs here: https://portal.linx.net/

    4. Mark Jackson says:

      Ah good point David.

    5. CarlT says:

      Okay, what is broken by 1/100th of a second of latency each way?

      You’re aware that large networks have about 75% of traffic handled by caches that are close to users to avoid carrying it across their core networks, right?

  3. Kevin Nash says:

    The evidence is in the traffic figure. If the traffic was exchanged according to population density the figure would be much lower. 5.454 million (2019) live in Scotland vs 8.982 million (2019) for London. The traffic seems very out of balance to me. Take two users in Scotland using different ISPs the traffic isn’t staying in Scotland. Not for the majority anyway.

    1. Jonny says:

      The UK is a very small country, I’m not convinced the latency of going to London and back is enough of a problem to make it worth using regional IXPs

    2. Dave says:

      Round trip time between two people in Edinburgh going via London is fairly low (in a global sense) of under 20ms. You do need to add on the local loop latency which generally adds a bit.

      Compare this to New York – California of around 60ms, and you can see that even though its not particularly efficient its not terrible.

      There are not many applications that actually demand ultra low latency.

      VOIP requires 150-130ms RTT (from a quick google).
      Gaming does require low latency, but is typically not P2P, and uses a server. Unless you want only Scottish folks to game against other Scottish folk, then the location of that server is going to make it rough for someone.

      I genuinely cannot think of any other scenarios where low latency P2P is a requirement. Would be happy to hear of them though.

  4. Kevin Nash says:

    On the LINX website you can see the average traffic for Scotland is a paltry 1.5G-1.4G avg. Compared to 6000G+ in London….

    1. CarlT says:

      If you’d like to pay content providers to backhaul traffic from London to Scotland themselves rather than relying on ISPs’ own networks and on-net caches I’m sure they’d be interested.

    2. Nick Roberts says:

      Double counting ? 50% of that 6000G stuff comes into London and gets filtered straight out again to Menwith Hill snd Cheltenham ?

  5. Internet Backup Technologies LTD says:

    Sorry it was me. I left uTorrent running during the weekend.

    1. CarlT says:

      Those Linux ISOs don’t download themselves!

  6. Kevin Nash says:

    “I genuinely cannot think of any other scenarios where low latency P2P is a requirement”

    at a computer trade show in 1981, Bill Gates supposedly uttered this statement, in defence of the just-introduced IBM PC’s 640KB usable RAM limit: “640K ought to be enough for anybody.”

    I believe low-latency AI processors will benefit from extreme low latency between users. Humans and AI need low latency sensors to read human emotions/reactions and process them. Network operators like BT only interconnecting/peering in London benefits them. Making harder and more expensive for smaller regional competitors to interconnect. People talk about supporting small business but most people I know use national providers over smaller providers who often supply a better service.

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