Global Internet Geography research reveal that international Internet capacity growth fell to the lowest pace in five years, decreasing from 68 per cent in 2008 to 40 per cent in 2012. While the pace of growth is slowing, international Internet bandwidth continues to grow rapidly, more than doubling between 2010 and 2012, to 77 Tbps.
Decelerating network capacity growth rates are mirrored in slowing rates of peak and average international Internet traffic growth. Average international Internet traffic grew 35 per cent in 2012, down from 39 per cent in 2011, and peak traffic grew 33 per cent, well below the 57 per cent increase recorded in 2011. International Internet traffic and capacity growth rates are declining due to a combination of factors, including slowing broadband subscriber growth in mature markets, and the expansion of content delivery networks (CDNs) and local caching technologies, which reduce the need for new long-haul capacity by storing popular content closer to the end-users. Nevertheless, the underlying drivers of bandwidth demand remain strong. Broadband penetration rates in developing markets remain modest, leaving substantial room for new subscriber growth. In more mature markets, where the pace of broadband subscriber growth has slowed, faster broadband speeds and the growing adoption of bandwidth-intensive applications, most notably online video, are spurring higher traffic volumes per user.
“With the exception of a few developing countries, the days of triple-digit annual growth rates are long past,” said TeleGeography Research Director Alan Mauldin. “However, even with the use of CDNs and caching technologies, the compounding effect of rapid traffic growth will continue to require carriers to make considerable investments to expand network capacity.”