broadcast-break-435441_1280

Global Internet Traffic and Capacity Return to Regularly Scheduled Programming

Network

By Alan MauldinSep 7, 2021

Share

Here's the headline: global internet bandwidth rose by 29% in 2021.

You could consider this a return to normal over the previous year's COVID-driven surge of 34%. Total international bandwidth now stands at 786 Tbps, representing a four-year CAGR of 29%.

As we mentioned last year around this time, the pace of growth had been slowing, but we still see a near tripling of bandwidth since 2017.

Yet again we find ourselves saying that capacity growth is visible across regions. And, yet again, Africa experienced the most rapid growth of international internet bandwidth, growing at a compound annual rate of 45% between 2017 and 2021. Oceania is just behind Africa, rising at a 38% compound annual rate during the same period.

Africa, Oceania Lead New Growth
International Internet Bandwidth Growth by Region

International Internet Bandwidth Growth by Region

Average and peak international internet traffic increased at a compound annual rate of 29% between 2017 and 2021—matching the 29% compounded annual growth rate in bandwidth over the same period.

All of the stay-at-home activity associated with COVID-19 last year resulted in a spike in traffic from 2019-2020. As one may expect, the return to more normal usage patterns resulted in a substantial slowdown in the annual growth rate.

Average traffic growth dropped from 48% between 2019-2020 to 23% between 2020-2021, while peak traffic growth dropped from 46% to 26% over the same time period.

All of the stay-at-home activity associated with COVID-19 last year resulted in a spike in traffic from 2019-2020. As one may expect, the return to more normal usage patterns resulted in a substantial slowdown in the annual growth rate.

This return to old habits can be seen across regions. With the initial rapid traffic growth due to COVID-19 waning in 2021, many global networks appear to have started to return to more typical rates of utilization.

Global average and peak utilization rates declined slightly to 26% and 45% percent, respectively, in 2021.

 

In our Global Internet Geography research service, we discuss the impact of COVID-19 within the larger framework of our analysis and statistics on internet capacity and traffic. We also discuss factors impacting IP transit pricing and the role individual backbone operators play. This content comes from our latest report update.

To become a subscriber, email us at sales@telegeography.com. 

 

New call-to-action

Alan Mauldin

Alan Mauldin

Alan Mauldin is a Research Director at TeleGeography. He manages the company’s infrastructure research group, focusing primarily on submarine cables, terrestrial networks, international Internet infrastructure, and bandwidth demand modeling. He also advises clients with due diligence analysis, feasibility studies, and business plan development for projects around the world. Alan speaks frequently about the global network industry at a wide range of conferences, including PTC, Submarine Networks World, and SubOptic.

Connect with Alan