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10 January 2013
Brought to you in collaboration with TeleGeography.
Growth in global demand for
international bandwidth declined in 2011 for a third straight
year. Although the pace of growth has slowed, demand still
increased at a robust rate of 45%.
TeleGeography reports that carriers had a total of 67Tbps of
capacity on their international IP, private and voice networks
in 2011 - six times the 11.1Tbps in service in 2007.
Bandwidth demand growth varies geographically, primarily based
on the level of network adoption in the region. Demand growth
has been strongest on links to less developed regions such as
Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.
Although the amount of lit capacity has increased on all major
undersea routes, potential capacity is also growing, and a
large amount remains untapped.
Potential capacity is an estimate of a cable's maximum capacity
on the basis of existing technologies. While the proportion of
lit capacity has remained rather low on many routes, the
exception had been the Europe-Asia route via Egypt.
In 2008, lit capacity between Europe and Egypt was equivalent
to 77% of potential capacity. The entry of several new cables
on the route dramatically increased potential capacity, and the
lit-to-potential capacity ratio fell to 11% in 2011.
Between 2011 and 2013, a total of 38 new submarine cables with
an estimated construction cost of $5.6 billion are expected to
Asia is seeing the most new submarine cable construction, while
several projects are also underway in Africa, the Middle East,
Latin America and the transatlantic.
The costs of these new systems vary widely. Of all the cables
in recent development, the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) and
West African Cable System (WACS) cables carried the heftiest
price tags at around $700 million and $650 million
Conversely, shorter, more regionally focused systems like the
Taiwan Strait Express-1 are often constructed for less than $40
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