New networking era imminent as global internet bandwidth rises 28% in 2022

As the networking industry makes a continued return to “normal” following the pandemic-generated bump of 2020, research suggests it is about to make a step change.

According to a study from global telecommunications market research and consulting firm TeleGeography, global internet bandwidth has risen by 28% over the course of 2022, with a four-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29%, and is now standing at 997Tbps (terabits per second).

The latest figures from Global Internet Geography showed that despite this slower growth rate, global internet bandwidth has almost tripled since 2018 and the era of networking measured in petabits per second (Pbps) becomes imminent.

The research also found that the growth in international internet bandwidth and internet traffic remain similar. Average and peak international internet traffic was found to have increased at a rate of 30% between 2018 and 2022, just slightly above the 29% CAGR in bandwidth over the same period.

TeleGeography added that following the Covid-19 traffic surge in 2020, a global return to more typical usage patterns meant a decline in average and peak utilisation rates. Average traffic growth dropped from 47% between 2019 and 2020 to 29% between 2021 and 2022, while peak traffic growth dropped from 46% to 28% over the same time period.

Global average and peak utilisation rates were revealed to be essentially unchanged from those calculated in 2021, standing at 26% and 45% respectively, in both 2021 and 2022. In terms of pricing, providers’ shift to predominantly 100Gbps internet backbones continues to reduce the average cost of carrying traffic. Across seven major global hub cities, 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GbE) prices fell by 16% compounded annually from the second quarter of 2019 to the second quarter of 2022, while 100 Gigabit Ethernet (100 GbE) port prices fell by 25%.

And as many global networks have started to return to more typical rates of utilisation since the pandemic, Africa experienced the most rapid growth of international internet bandwidth, growing at a CAGR of 44% between 2018 and 2022. Asia now sits behind Africa, rising at a 35% CAGR during the same period. On a global scale – Covid bump aside – the pace of growth has been slowing.

“After a tumultuous 2020 – with pandemic-induced volume surges and shifts in internet traffic patterns – network operators are back to adding bandwidth and engineering their traffic in a more measured manner,” said TeleGeography senior research manager Paul Brodsky. “Based on hard survey data gathered from dozens of regional and global network operators around the world, it’s clear that the Covid-related expansion of internet traffic and bandwidth was a one-off phenomenon.”

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