Global Internet bandwidth rose by 28% in 2022, now standing at 997Tbps, with a four-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29%.

TeleGeography forecasts that the Pbps era will soon be underway, as its latest Global Internet Geography research tracks the continued return to “normal” from the pandemic-generated bump of 2020.

Africa experienced the most rapid growth of international Internet bandwidth, growing at a compound annual rate of 44% between 2018 and 2022. Asia sits behind Africa, rising at a 35% compound annual rate during the same period. On a global scale – Covid bump aside – the pace of growth has been slowing.

Despite this slower growth rate, global Internet bandwidth has still almost tripled since 2018.

The growth in international Internet bandwidth and Internet traffic remain similar. Average and peak international Internet traffic increased at a compound annual rate of 30% between 2018 and 2022, just slightly above the 29% CAGR in bandwidth over the same period.

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 2019-2020 to 29% between 2021-2022, while peak traffic growth dropped from 46% to 28% over the same time period.

“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,” says Paul Brodsky, senior research manager at TeleGeography. “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.”

Many global networks have started to return to more typical rates of utilisation post-pandemic.

Global average and peak utilisation rates were essentially unchanged from last year, 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 GigE prices fell 16% compounded annually from Q2 2019 to Q2 2022, while 100 GigE port prices fell 25%.