TeleGeography: International submarine bandwidth demand changing

April 18, 2013
New data from telecom market research firm TeleGeography indicates that demand for international bandwidth on submarine fiber cables grew 39% in 2012, and at a compounded annual rate of 53% between 2007 and 2012. Much of that growth came from non-traditional routes.

New data from telecom market research firm TeleGeography indicates that demand for international bandwidth on submarine fiber cables grew 39% in 2012, and at a compounded annual rate of 53% between 2007 and 2012. Much of that growth came from non-traditional routes.

International bandwidth demand growth has been robust on all five of the world’s major submarine fiber-optic cable routes, but has been particularly rapid on key routes to emerging markets in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.

While bandwidth demand on the trans-Atlantic route—which has long been the world’s highest-capacity route—increased at a healthy rate of 36% annually between 2007 and 2012, demand for bandwidth from the U.S. to Latin America grew 70% per year over the same period, and demand for capacity on the Europe-Asia route via Egypt grew a staggering 87% per year.

Telcos have kept up with increasing bandwidth demand by building new fiber-optic cables and upgrading existing systems, deploying a total of 54 Tbps of new capacity between 2007 and 2012, according to TeleGeography.

Carriers’ new capacity deployments reflect the changing patterns of international bandwidth demand. Between 1997 and 2002, the amount of new capacity deployed across the Atlantic was greater than the amount deployed on the trans-Pacific, U.S.-Latin America, Intra-Asia, and Europe-Asia routes combined. Similarly, between 2002 and 2007, nearly half of all new capacity was deployed on the trans-Atlantic route. Over the past five years, however, new capacity deployments have become remarkably balanced, with each of the world’s major routes gaining between 10 and 12 Tbps.


“While the total amount of lit bandwidth on routes to developing markets remains smaller than on routes between mature markets, demand on emerging market routes is growing much faster,” said TeleGeography analyst Paul Brodsky. “Consequently, as telcos upgrade submarine cable networks to meet bandwidth demand, new capacity deployments are being distributed ever more evenly around the world.”

The data come from TeleGeography’s Global Bandwidth Research Service, which provides detailed analysis of the long-haul networks and submarine cable industry, including supply, demand, cost, and pricing analysis, and profiles for 330 network operators and 266 submarine cables.

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