Google Serves Quarter of Internet Traffic in North America

About 25 percent of North American consumer Internet traffic is served by Google, more than that of Facebook, Netflix and Instagram combined, an increase from 6 percent three years ago. Estimates are that the majority of Google’s traffic is from YouTube — the rest involving searches, analytics, and advertising. To deal with the increase in Internet traffic, the company has data centers in the Americas, Europe and Asia, and has other distribution strategies.

“What’s really interesting is, over just the past year, how pervasive Google has become, not just in Google data centers, but throughout the North American Internet,” says Craig Labovitz, founder of Deepfield, the Internet monitoring company. More than 62 percent of the smartphones, laptops, and other devices that link to the Internet from North America connect to Google at least once a day, reports Labovitz.

“Take these numbers with a grain of salt, though,” cautions Wired. “It’s impossible to get a total picture of the Internet, so Deepfield’s numbers are a best guess based on the traffic flowing through its Internet service provider partners. Still, there’s no question that Google is big and getting massive.”

The company has also added thousands of servers to ISPs worldwide to create a distribution system of popular content from Google, called Google Global Cache. It is a content distribution network that offsets traffic from data centers, with its servers in about 80 percent of North American ISPs, according to Labovitz.

This type of distribution system, also referred to as the “edge” of the network, will improve traffic, especially in areas without a nearby data center. Many companies use this method to distribute and increase speed to access content and services, such as Akamai, Wired and Netflix with its Open Connect Network.

“It used to be that the focus of people like Google and Facebook was about building data centers,” Labovitz says. “They’re still doing that, but what is equally interesting is watching these edge boxes — these servers being embedded just everywhere.”