According to Data from TeleGeography’s Global Bandwidth Research Service, demand for international bandwidth increased at a compounded rate of 57% annually between 2007 and 2011, with an increase of 45% in 2011 fueled largely by developing markets in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.
Though overall growth has slowed since 2008, when network capacity increases peaked at nearly 70%, aggregate capacity requirements continue to more than double every two years. Just looking at growth rates is a little deceptive. All areas of the world are growing, but regions and market sizes are important factors when considering the overall picture.
Links to less-developed regions have seen the most substantial increases. Between 2007 and 2011, international bandwidth usage in Africa increased 85% annually, to 677Gbps, and Latin America’s international bandwidth usage grew 71%, to 5.6Tbps. Over the same time period, the pace of Middle East growth exceeded all regions at a compounded rate of 98% annually, from 148Gbps to 2.3Tbps.
“Although international bandwidth usage growth is slower in these mature markets, their capacity requirements are far larger than those of emerging markets,” said TeleGeography analyst Jon Hjembo. “North America’s international bandwidth usage is nearly ten times greater than that of the entire Middle East, while used capacity connected to Norway is greater than that connected to all of the countries in Africa.” It is remarkable that Norway has greater broadband access than the entire African continent but that is an indication of the tremendous opportunities for growth that continue to exist.
TeleGeography’s research also shows that bandwidth demand in Latin America, Europe, and North America has been fueled by increases in average broadband access speeds, enabling more frequent use of high-bandwidth applications such as video. By contrast, increased bandwidth demand in the Middle East and Africa were mainly due to broadband subscriber growth, from 9.4 million to 19.4 million subscribers between 2007 and 2011. In Asia, broadband subscriptions doubled to 250 million over the same period.
If these patterns hold, the evolution in developing broadband markets could follow more mature markets — continued demand for increased access speeds.