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The COVID-19 pandemic drove International Internet capacity from 450 Tbps to 600 Tbps – a 35% increase — between 2019 and last year, according to TeleGeography.

The 2021 Global Internet Map, which was sponsored by Netskope, found growth in four areas:

  • Europe had the highest regional capacity and saw the greatest growth from 2019 to 2020.
  • Global peak international Internet traffic increased at a compound annual rate of 30% between 2016 and 2020.
  • Average global international Internet traffic increased from about 120 Tbps to 170 Tbps from 2019 to 2020.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic drove the peak traffic growth rate to 47%. It had been forecast to be 28%.

TeleGeography uses a number of inputs to track global capacity, traffic, pricing data and major cloud providers.

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“It’s been very interesting to track global trends in terms of capacity and traffic over the past year, and learning how operators responded to the pandemic,” TeleGeography Senior Analyst Anahi Rebatta said in a press release about pandemic internet capacity. “Our latest data shows that global capacity and internet traffic surged in 2020, mostly driven by the widespread remote work and learning, with more people relying on the internet than ever before.”

Other research has seen similar pandemic internet usage. Last week, OpenVault reported that traffic on broadband networks increased by 51% due to the pandemic. The firm also found that average per-subscriber usage increased from 344 GB during the fourth quarter of 2019 to 482.6 GB per month during the fourth quarter of last year, an increase of 40%.

It will be interesting to see whether remote approaches to work, school, health and entertainment still are widely used once the pandemic ends or if society goes back to its pre-pandemic habits.

This, of course, will have a big impact on whether the past year’s traffic spikes are aberrations or the new normal.

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