Used International Bandwidth Reaches New Heights


By Alan MauldinMay 15, 2024


Worldwide bandwidth demand continues to grow at a steady pace.

Annual demand growth has decelerated slowly, but according to new data from TeleGeography’s Transport Networks Research Service, aggregate demand more than tripled between 2019 and 2023 to reach an eye-popping 5 Pbps.

Worldwide International Bandwidth Growth

Copyright_TeleGeography_gb_re_bandwidth_growth_global (1)Source: © 2024 TeleGeography

Now take a look at the bar chart below.

Used International Bandwidth Growth by Region

Copyright_TeleGeography_gb_sd_bandwidth_growth_region (1)
Source: © 2024 TeleGeography

On a regional level, most parts of the world have seen very comparable growth at about 35-40% CAGR since 2019.

The markets that stand out are Africa, where capacity growth is still surging at a nearly 50% CAGR, and the U.S. & Canada, where market maturity has slowed demand to around 30% CAGR.

The Role of Content Providers

Content and cloud providers—most specifically a handful of companies like Google, Meta, Microsoft, and Amazon—are firmly entrenched as the biggest users of network capacity globally.

As recently as 2016, internet backbone providers accounted for the majority of demand. Not anymore. As of 2023, content and cloud networks accounted for more than 70% of all bandwidth usage.

As of 2023, content and cloud networks accounted for more than 70% of all bandwidth usage.

If you look at the 100% bar chart below, you’ll see that this demand scale is not the same on every route that we track at TeleGeography.

Share of Used Bandwidth by Category for Major Routes

Copyright_TeleGeography_gb_cp_category_share_subsea_route (1)
Notes: Data shows used bandwidth as of year-end 2023. Source: © 2024 TeleGeography

On some of the biggest subsea routes like the trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific, and intra-Asia, content providers account for the vast majority of demand (80% or more). Other routes remain more carrier-driven, such as the U.S.-Latin America routes, and routes connecting Europe to Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

Why the contrast?

Content providers are focused on connecting data centers across different zones. Due to the concentration of service delivery in major Asian, European, and U.S. markets, core routes connecting these regions are of highest priority to the content providers.

That said, content provider demand is rapidly growing everywhere and outpaces demand growth even on routes where carriers continue to drive overall capacity usage.

Content Providers versus Others Bandwidth Growth by Region

Copyright_TeleGeography_gb_cp_content_others_growth (1)
Source: © 2024 TeleGeography

As might be expected, content provider demand growth is fastest in regions where carriers are still dominant, like Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. But there's no part of the globe where content demand growth isn't outpacing that of internet backbone providers.

Download the new Transport Networks Executive Summary to keep reading our latest analysis.


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