In spite of a recent industry downturn, international backbone traffic has maintained an almost unstoppable growth, around 300 percent in aggregate over the last 10 years, say specialists at TeleGeography at PTC ’08. This is ’good news’ for carriers, says Tim Stronge, VP of Research at the consultancy. But in looking at the figures around the world, he suggests that the road ahead might be a little more bumpy. “We have seen a disturbing trend, recently,” he warns.
This “disturbing trend” comes after years of traffic growth of at least 15 percent on a CAGR basis. Stronge says last year, however, there was a “fairly significant dip down to about 10 percent”. One factor was a major slowdown in traditional TDM traffic, perhaps to only 6 percent growth, a figure not seen since World War II. However, VoIP has now reached that seen for TDM—traditionally a much larger business segment—because of the much higher VoIP growth rates.
VoIP is not just settlement rate bypass, says Stronge emphatically. “[It] is becoming a mainstream technology...the USA is No. 2 VoIP recipient in the world after Mexico, even though settlement rates are very low [for TDM traffic]; China is No. 4, UK is No. 3.” [snip]
"Why is traffic finally slowing?" ... Drivers have been international trade and economic health between countries. Another has been international migration, where migrants call home frequently ... The probable key is ongoing price reductions and their impacts. [snip]
However, voice is only one part of an increasingly large picture and one that is dominated by Internet traffic almost completely. Voice, according to TeleGeography, accounts for less than 1 percent of traffic on international backbone networks. Private networks account for around 14 percent, and the Internet (principally web usage and peer to peer activity) the remaining 75 percent. In aggregate, Internet demand is consuming available capacity on key transoceanic cable systems pushing cable operators into wanting new cable projects and upgrading existing systems. On both key Atlantic and Pacific routes capacity is being consumed, says TeleGeography. Internet growth on these backbones may well be in the 60-70 percent per annum range, far above the 40 percent per annum increase in corresponding supply.
15 January 2008
International backbone traffic
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