It’s only a game: handball final creates a DE-CIX record of 57Gbps

Denmark Norway handball.jpg

DE-CIX has recorded the highest ever traffic on its Hamburg internet exchange, thanks to a sport played in only a handful of countries .

Live streaming of the last few matches in the men’s finals of the Handball World Cup created huge spikes in traffic through the Hamburg exchange, reaching a peak of more than 57Gbps on Saturday evening.

“DE-CIX Hamburg reached a new data traffic record,” a DE-CIX spokesman told Capacity today after the organisation had analysed the results. Further peaks occurred on Sunday afternoon when France beat Germany in the third-place final and then on Sunday evening when Denmark defeated Norway in the overall final.

Harald Summa, CEO of DE-CIX, said the team originally suspected a DDoS – distributed denial of service – attack. “But after investigations, we figured that the boost in local traffic was in direct connection with the final round of the Handball World Cup, which caused extremely high public interest.”

Thomas King, CTO of DE-CIX, said that traffic was very different from normal. “Generally, our traffic is characterized by wave movements and reflects the rhythm of internet use, starting at six in the morning and reaching its peak at around 9 pm. We can also register seasonal changes – in the summer users are online less than in the autumn and winter months.”

It took King and his colleagues some time to work out what was going on. In the early hours of Monday morning he tweeted: “Woohuuu, a new traffic peak is reached at @decix Hamburg: 57.8Gbps! The traffic graph does not look like a typical IX traffic graph, however, traffic is traffic! Thank you very much customers!”

Internet consultant Rudolf van den Berg, from Stratix, asked on Twitter: “What the hell happened?” King replied: “I can just speculate about the reason: configuration changes, maintenance, or hardware/connection issues. Our side was rock-stable.”

Then someone remembered January 2017, when that year’s men’s Handball World Cup finals also created weekend peaks. King posted a link to a German traffic analysis from that weekend, showing an exactly similar pattern, caused by a YouTube live broadcast of the finals. With the mystery solved, Van den Berg tweeted “Awesome!!”

Summa said today: “Through these spikes, we see that traffic is moving away from more central exchanges, and getting closer to the edge.”

For the record, Denmark beat Norway for the championship 31-22. And, no, we don’t understand the sport either. But if you’re interested, the final is still available on YouTube via the Belarus handball federation.