NAPAfrica blows past 3Tbps Internet traffic

South Africa’s biggest Internet exchange point and one of the biggest on the African continent — NAPAfrica — exceeded data throughput of 3 terabits-per-second (Tbps) this past week.

That comes just a few days after NAPAfrica told MyBroadband it expected to breach 3Tbps throughput this year.

The exchange said that online gaming activity contributed significantly to this milestone. However, it wasn’t the only contributor.

“The online gaming community added over 400Gbps of additional traffic to the exchange,” NAPAfrica said.

In response to questions on the MyBroadband forum, Afrihost informed subscribers that an update for Call of Duty Warzone 2 on Wednesday caused a substantial surge in traffic.

The traffic spike peaked for around 30 minutes and then gradually subsided, Afrihost said.

The update released around 19:00 — during South Africa’s evening peak time — and was 22GB in size.

Major online gaming platforms that peer at NAPAfrica include Akamai (PlayStation Store), Microsoft (Xbox Store), and Valve (Steam). The Call of Duty updated would’ve run through Valve’s peering.

NAPAfrica provides graphs on its website that are updated every five minutes to show weekly data traffic trends at the exchange’s three peering locations — Johannesburg (JB1), Durban (DB1), and Cape Town (CT1).

As shown below, it measured peak total data traffic throughput of 3.13Tbps at around 19:55 on Wednesday, 15 February 2023.

JB1 contributed about 2.61Tbps of this traffic, followed by CT1 with 479.28Gbps, and DB1 with 42Gbps.

Since its launch in 2012, NAPAfrica has grown its peering members to over 550 organisations.

When measured using this metric, it is Africa’s biggest Internet exchange and the sixth-largest in the world.

Peering locally gives organisations the ability to improve network resilience, lower costs, and reduce the latency customers experience when accessing online content and applications.

The exchange recorded a big jump in Internet traffic during the Covid-19 pandemic, with more gradual growth continuing in the aftermath.

At the start of South Africa’s first hard lockdown, NAPAfrica traffic throughput broke 1Tbps for the first time. That doubled to 2Tbps by July of the following year.

NAPAfrica said the continued surge in data traffic was thanks to a dynamic peering community, increased use of data-intensive applications, continued work-from-home, and rising demand for video and content delivery services.

“These trends have driven greater traffic levels between service providers, enterprises, regions, and individual consumers,” NAPAfrica stated.

The exchange is operated by South Africa’s largest data centre company, Teraco.

Teraco Platforms head Michele McCann said the milestone 3Tbps showcased NAPAfrica’s rapid growth and the “new reality” of escalating demand for content and cloud services.

“What started as an idea to attract global content to African shores while also improving latency has emerged as a leading interconnection hub increasing and shaping access to the Internet across the continent,” McCann stated.

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NAPAfrica blows past 3Tbps Internet traffic