Internet bandwidth rising internationally amidst slower growth pace

Market research by TeleGeography found that global internet bandwidth increased by 28% in 2022 and is now at 997 Tbps, with a four-year CAGR of 29%.

The company predicts that the Pbps era will soon begin as things start to feel “normal” again after pandemic-related disruptions.

Interestingly, the pace of growth has slowed at the global level. However, despite this slower growth rate, global internet bandwidth has still nearly tripled since 2018.

It has also been found that growth in international internet bandwidth and internet traffic remains similar. Average and peak international internet traffic increased at a compound annual rate of 30% between 2018 and 2022, just above the CAGR of 29% in bandwidth over the same period.

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Africa saw the fastest growth in international internet bandwidth at a compound annual growth rate of 44% between 2018 and 2022, and Asia trailed just behind at a compound annual growth rate of 35% over the same period.

Following the COVID-19 traffic spike in 2020, a global return to more typical usage patterns meant a drop in average and peak occupancy rates. Average traffic growth fell from 47% between 2019-2020 to 29% between 2021-2022, while peak traffic growth fell from 46% to 28% over the same period.

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Paul Brodsky, senior research manager, TeleGeography, says operators are now adding bandwidth and starting to shape traffic differently as we emerge from the pandemic thicket. He says the mass expansion in internet traffic caused by COVID has largely subsided.

“After a turbulent 2020 with pandemic-related volume jumps and shifts in the internet traffic pattern network, operators are back to adding bandwidth and pacing their traffic,” he says.

“Based on hard survey data collected from dozens of regional and global carriers around the world, it is clear that the COVID-related expansion in internet traffic and bandwidth was a one-time phenomenon.”

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Looking at providers, many global networks have started to return to more typical post-pandemic occupancy rates.

It found that global average and peak occupancy rates were essentially flat from the previous year, standing at 26% and 45% in both 2021 and 2022, respectively.

Pricing also played a role. Providers have transitioned to mostly 100 Gbps Internet backbones and continue to reduce the average cost of transporting data traffic. In seven major global hub cities, 10GigE prices fell 16% compounded annually from Q2 2019 to Q2 2022, while 100GigE port prices fell 25%.

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