International Internet Bandwidth Getting Worse

by Jakob Nielsen on April 5, 1998

Sidebar to Jakob Nielsen 's column on Nielsen's Law of Internet bandwidth .

Bandwidth across the Atlantic will increase from 50 Gbps in 1997 to 110 Gbps in the Year 2000 . Growing by 120% over 3 years is abysmally low (only 30% per year), though the growth in Internet bandwidth will be higher because most of the capacity in 1997 was spent on voice traffic whereas most of the new cables will go to data traffic. Even so, the need for trans-Atlantic bandwidth will probably increase by a factor of 50 (five times as many users accessing ten times as many websites - with more multimedia effects despite my best advice). Thus, international download speeds may well decline during the next few years.

Trans-Pacific capacity will grow faster (from 20 Gbps in 1997 to 100 Gbps in 2000), but still not enough to accommodate the expected explosion in Internet users in Asia. It is quite likely that the number of Asian users will grow by a factor of 20 during these three years.

Thus, any website that aims at an international customer base would do well in being even more conservative in its bandwidth consumption than purely domestic sites. And, as discuss in another column, almost all sites do need to go global .


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