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Internet bandwidth rising internationally amidst slower growth pace

Market research from TeleGeography has found that global internet bandwidth has risen by 28% in 2022, now standing at 997 Tbps with a four-year CAGR of 29%. 

The company forecasts that the Pbps era will soon be underway as things start to return to "normal" after pandemic-related disruptions.

Interestingly on a global scale, the pace of growth has been slowing. However, despite this slower growth rate, global internet bandwidth has still almost tripled since 2018.

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

Africa experienced the most rapid growth of international internet bandwidth, with a compound annual growth rate of 44% between 2018 and 2022, and Asia sat just behind with a 35% CAGR during the same period.

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

Paul Brodsky, Senior Research Manager, TeleGeography, says that operators are now adding bandwidth and starting to engineer traffic in a different way as we emerge from the thick of the pandemic. He says the mass internet traffic expansion caused by COVID has largely subsided.

"After a tumultuous 2020, with pandemic-induced volume surges and shifts in internet traffic patterns network, operators are back to adding bandwidth and engineering their traffic in a more measured manner," he says.

"Based on hard survey data gathered from dozens of regional and global network operators around the world, it's clear that the COVID-related expansion of internet traffic and bandwidth was a one-off phenomenon."

When looking at providers, many global networks have started to return to more typical rates of utilisation post-pandemic. 

Global average and peak utilisation rates were found to be essentially unchanged from last year, standing at 26% and 45% respectively, in both 2021 and 2022. 

Pricing was also a factor. Providers shifted to predominantly 100 Gbps internet backbones and are continuing to reduce the average cost of carrying traffic. Across seven major global hub cities, 10 GigE prices fell 16%, compounded annually from Q2 2019 to Q2 2022, while 100 GigE port prices fell 25%.

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