Subsea Capacity Outlook – Big Data Driving Big Bandwidth
By Kieran Clark
May 21, 2018
Big Data. Data centers. Over-The-Top (OTT) Providers. Cloud Services. Video Streaming. Artificial Intelligence.
What do all of these have in common? They are involved in nearly every aspect of modern life and have a near insatiable need for telecommunications bandwidth.
As we continue to move towards a Star Trek like future (or Blade Runner, depending on your point of view), our increasingly technologically dependent way of life drives the need for more and more bandwidth. The cornerstone of this huge upswell in data driven industries is, of course, our little corner of the telecommunications market. The submarine fiber industry makes it all possible by connecting the world to a global telecommunications network.
Industry dynamics have changed very little from a year ago, and trends observed previously have largely continued. Indeed, the prevalence of content and service providers driving new cable systems instead of ISP and infrastructure providers should be considered the new normal. This new way of approaching the business seems here to stay. As all of these providers continue to expand their reach, the submarine fiber industry will have numerous opportunities for growth.
As new systems come into service and existing systems are upgraded, there is a continuing upward trend in global capacity to address the world’s demand for more telecoms services. This is mostly due to an ever-increasing demand for low latency, high bandwidth international connections, and to the almost exponential increase in demand for mobile and cloud services observed over the last few years. These factors show little signs of slowing down, so there is a strong expectation that demand will continue to rise at this rapid pace in the coming years.
Capacity increased by 35 percent in 2017, compared to an increase of 24 percent in 2015. With 15 systems entering service in 2017, there was a much larger increase in capacity compared to a year ago. With easy and cheap access to 100G wavelength upgrades and 200G beginning to enter regular service, this comes as little surprise. New systems are also making use of increasing numbers of wavelengths crammed on to a single fiber pair – with more than 100 wavelengths per fiber pair no longer being much of an outlier.