Data from TeleGeography’s Global Bandwidth Research Service reveal that demand for international bandwidth grew 45 percent in 2011, and at a compounded rate of 57 percent annually between 2007 and 2011. Although growth has slowed since 2008, when network capacity increased nearly 70 percent, the pace remains brisk, with aggregate capacity requirements more than doubling every two years.
The rate of growth varies widely by region, and has been fastest on links to less-developed regions. Between 2007 and 2011, international bandwidth usage in the Middle East grew at a compounded rate of 98 percent annually, from 148 Gbps to 2.3 Tbps. Over the same time period, Africa’s international bandwidth usage increased 85 percent annually, to 677 Gbps, and Latin America’s international bandwidth usage grew 71 percent, to 5.6 Tbps.
International Bandwidth Growth Used by Region, 2007-2011
International bandwidth requirements in Asia and Europe grew at a compounded rate of more than 55 percent between 2007 and 2011, while international bandwidth demand in North America and Oceania grew 47 percent. Although international bandwidth usage growth is slower in these mature markets, their capacity requirements are far larger than those of emerging markets. North America’s international bandwidth usage is nearly 10 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.
Broadband subscriber growth is the primary driver of bandwidth demand in the Middle East and Africa, where the number of subscribers grew from 9.4 million to 19.4 million between 2007 and 2011, and in Asia, where broadband subscriptions doubled to 250 million over the same period. While broadband subscriber growth has slowed in Latin America, Europe, and North America, bandwidth demand in these regions has been fueled by increases in average broadband access speeds, enabling more frequent use of high-bandwidth applications such as video.