Demand for Bandwidth Leads to Fiber Boom

Carriers are building out long-haul network capacity like it was 2001, but they’re not going to break the bank this time around, according to a report out today from TeleGeography Research. The firm’s Global Bandwidth Research Service says the growth in submarine cable and long-haul transport capacity is in response to a 64 percent surge in international bandwidth usage last year.

More than 60 percent of U.S. network operators surveyed will light new fiber on their network in 2009, and there are 16 planned undersea cable projects for 2009. That’s more than the number of cables laid in 2001, during the peak of the submarine cable investment bubble. This time around it will be cheaper, too, with the firm estimating the planned cable construction will cost $2.6 billion compared to $13.5 billion spent on systems back in 2001. The buildout in undersea optical cables should be viewed as a good thing, especially if Om is correct when he points out that network growth often presages an economic boom.