Our newly updated Global Bandwidth Research Service shows that the global bandwidth market is still experiencing massive demand growth.
Between 2019 and 2021 alone, international bandwidth used by global networks doubled to reach nearly 2,900 Tbps.
So, who's driving all this demand growth for international capacity?
Worldwide International Bandwidth Growth
Historically, it's been carrier networks, provisioning public internet services.
More recently, a handful of major content and cloud service providers—namely Google, Meta (formerly Facebook), Amazon, and Microsoft—have become the primary sources of demand. These companies are the dominant users of international bandwidth, accounting for 69% of all used international capacity in 2021.
But their capacity requirements vary extensively by route. Content providers prioritize the need to link their data centers and major interconnection points. As such, they often take tremendous capacity on core routes, while focusing much less than traditional carriers do on secondary long-haul routes.
In 2021, content providers accounted for 92% of used capacity on the trans-Atlantic route, but just 21% on the Europe-East Asia route.
To get a sense of this contrast, note that in 2021, content providers accounted for 92% of used capacity on the trans-Atlantic route, but just 21% on the Europe-East Asia route.
Share of Used Bandwidth by Category for Major Routes
While the share of content provider capacity on some routes may be much lower than on others, the growth in their demand across all routes has been relentless.
A comparison of content providers' international capacity demand growth compared to that of all other networks in the following figure reveals a stark contrast.
Content Providers versus Others Bandwidth Growth by Region
Across every region, content providers added capacity at a compound annual rate of at least 51% between 2017 and 2021, compared to a rate no higher than 45% for all the others.
Our Global Bandwidth Research Service assesses the state of the global telecom transport network industry and evaluates the factors that shape long-term demand growth and price erosion.
Download the 2022 Executive Summary to keep reading our latest analysis.
Paul Brodsky is a Senior Research Manager at TeleGeography. He is part of the network, internet, cloud, and voice research team. His regional expertise includes Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.