Using a newly designed monitoring system, researchers at Sprint Corp., in Overland Park, Kan., recently investigated how the company's data backbone is being used and found that during 2001 and 2002, peer-to-peer applications, such as Gnutella, generated up to 80 percent of the traffic on some of its links. The researchers also learned that streaming media accounted at times for a quarter of the traffic on some links but did not compare with peer-to-peer or Web traffic, which swung between 11 and 90 percent. More generally, they found that most of the links are working at less than 50 percent of capacity and that the data transmission times are dominated by the speed of light rather than by any traffic-related delays. Put succinctly, Sprint's network has plenty of backbone: you can't blame it if your voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) software experiences delays.
Packet-Level Traffic Measurements from the Sprint IP Backbone , by Chuck Fraleigh, et al ., IEEE Network , November 2003, pp. 6--16.