Broadcasting the Twittersphere

I think that Twitter and micro-blogging in general have properties that could be exploited along with broadcasting services. I’ll write my thoughts about this later on.

As a first step in this reflexion, I’d like to estimate the total bandwidth of Twitter, that is, how many kilobits per second are being Tweeted on average.

I made a similar exercise some time ago with regards to the blogosphere in a post titled “Broadcasting the Blogosphere: 30 million voices for the price of one!”.

So I found some twitter services that provide relevant data. For example, TweeSpeed is an instant speed meter that shows the current number of tweets per minute. A graph showing the speed per hour during the last week is also available. A quick look at that graph now suggests that 700.000 tweets per hour would be a reasonable approximation for last week’s average, excluding the peek caused by the “Michael Jackson Effect”. Twitpocalypse currently reports 221 tweets per second which results in a similar value (221*60*60 =795.600 tweets per hour ). On another front, the recent HubSpot State of the Twittershpere report provides similar amounts on a daily basis instead of per hour. I suspect that this is a mistake. I’ll be pessimistic and take the largest number. The Hubspot report also informs on the distribution of actual tweet length. I’ll average the tweet length to 110 characters per tweet.

So the math goes like this:

110ch * 1byte/ch * 700k/hour = 77 Mbytes/hour



Again, very surprising results! The current Twitter bandwidth is barely higher than a typical Internet or DAB radio station. The whole Twittershpere would only require to sacrifice a couple of off-air DAB stations in every market. I feel that very innovative datacasting/social applications could be built based on this!

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  1. Tony Orwin’s avatar

    I can not believe that an organisation with the status of the CRC can countenance such an ill informed and outrageous waste of valuable broadcast bandwidth as to allocating it to the transparent frippery of Twitter.

    The fact that Canada for a wide variety of reasons, – not lest of which has been the cross boarder (US) pressure to adopt the proprietary HD Radio or Sirius / XM satellite based systems) rather than the more universally accepted Eureka 147 DAB based digital Radio Solutions – is no reason to pick it off as a target to reduce its spectrum.

    Elsewhere in the world DAB is seeing an upturn in popularity with new systems being rolled out – or existing ones expanded / updated. It is a great shame that Canada (and the USA) is being left so far behind.

  2. Administrator’s avatar


    Please first note that I express my personal views here and not those of my employer.

    I am not sure I understand where we disagree.

    Is it when I say “sacrifice a couple of DAB stations” ? I realize now that I was unclear. I simply meant that the Twittershpere would fit in the place of one or two radio channels WITHIN a DAB multiplex. So I’m actually suggesting here that DAB would be used for the delivery of such application. I even forgot that the Tweets could probably be compressed quite a bit so that the resulting bitstream would certainly be under 100kbps!

    With regards to the application itself, I am not suggesting that it would necessarily make sense as is, but I believe that there are potentially some variations on this theme that could. When you think about it, Twitter is a broadcast application. Millions of broadcasters disseminating their thoughts 140 characters at a time. There must be something to make with it…. social broadcasting (in the sense if social networks) ?


  3. Sylvie Noel’s avatar

    While it’s true that a lot of Twitter is forgettable, dismissing Twitter for that reason would require that we also dismiss blogging because the majority of blogs are boring personal crap. There are people who use Twitter in an intelligent and interesting manner.

    Having said that, it’s true that a lot of it is of little interest outside the author and his/her circle of friends/family. But let’s forget about that for a bit and consider the idea of social broadcasting. How would it be advantageous over the other methods that people already have to access Twitter (internet/phone)? Would social broadcasting be more appropriate for other types of media than writing (I’m thinking YouTube videos, e.g.).

    I’m back from vacation and thinking about these issues again ^_^