Global bandwidth tops 786Tbps in 2021, says TeleGeograpy

Global bandwidth tops 786Tbps in 2021, says TeleGeograpy

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TeleGeography has found that global internet bandwidth increased by 29% in 2021, bringing it back to "normal" levels compared to 2020's COVID-driven levels of 34%.

The findings come courteous of TeleGeography's Global Internet Geography Research Service, which analyses internet capacity and traffic data sets, the factors impacting IP transit pricing, and the role individual backbone operators.

The services found that total international bandwidth has reached 786Tbps, representing a four-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29%. Geographically, Africa experienced the most rapid growth, increasing at a CAGR of 45% between 2017 and 2021. Oceania came in just behind Africa, with a CAGR of 38% for the same period.

“International internet bandwidth growth largely mirrors that of internet capacity, which both have a CAGR of 29% between 2017 and 2021,” said Alan Mauldin, research director at TeleGeography.

“And our Global Internet Geography report has officially been running for 20 years now, meaning two decades of research inform our latest findings.”

The increase of people working and learning from home as a result of COVID-19, led to a spike in traffic from 2019-2020. In turn, the return to more normal usage patterns resulted in a significant slowdown in the annual growth rate.

While average traffic growth dropped from 48% between 2019-2020 to 23% between 2020-2021, and peak traffic growth fell from 46% to 26% over the same time period, overall traffic continues to grow.

“On a global scale, we’re seeing a whole range of new internet-enabled devices, growing broadband penetration in developing markets, higher broadband access rates, and even more bandwidth-intensive applications,” added Anahí Rebatta, senior analyst at TeleGeography.

“These are just some of the factors fueling strong internet traffic growth and end-user traffic requirements.”

Interestingly, TeleGeography finds that the COVID-related expansion of internet traffic and bandwidth was "largely a one-off phenomenon" with pre-Covid trends becoming the norm.