If there is anything consistent about global demand for bandwidth, it’s that demand doubles roughly every two years, driven by annual growth typically in the range of 50 percent a year.
International bandwidth demand grew 45 percent in 2011, and at a compounded rate of 57 percent annually between 2007 and 2011, according to TeleGeography. Growth has slowed since 2008, but aggregate capacity requirements more than double 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, TeleGeography says.
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.
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.
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