New international capacity yields lower prices

23 May 2012

A recent wave of new submarine cable builds and upgrades to existing cable systems has brought an influx of submarine cable capacity to many historically high cost markets, including Africa, the Middle East, Southern Asia, and Latin America. Nevertheless, new data from TeleGeography’s Wholesale Bandwidth Pricing Database show that vast regional disparities persist in both price levels and rates of decline.

New cable builds in Asia have greatly increased both supply and competition in the region, driving down prices. Median lease prices for a 10 Gbps wavelength between Los Angeles and Tokyo fell 35 percent between Q1 2011 and Q1 2012, and at a compounded rate of 33 percent between Q1 2009 and Q1 2012. Prices of 10 Gbps wavelengths between Hong Kong and Singapore fell 10 percent between Q1 2011 and Q1 2012, to $43,935 per month, and declined at a compounded 31 percent annually between Q1 2009 and Q1 2012.

India, too, has experienced heavy investment in new cable projects, with the launch of three systems between 2009 and 2011. Prices of 10 Gbps wavelengths between London and Mumbai fell 22 percent between Q1 2011 and Q1 2012, but remain comparatively very expensive, at $175,000 per month.

While the last major cable between the US and South America was completed in 2001, network upgrades increased lit capacity five-fold between 2007 and 2011, and circuit prices between the U.S. and Latin America have fallen significantly. Between Q1 2011 and Q1 2012, median 10 Gbps monthly lease prices between Miami and São Paulo declined 29 percent, from $140,000 to $100,000. Several new cable projects are slated to enter service on this route in the next 2 years, making further price declines very likely.

“Despite the fact that modern submarine cable systems all employ similar technologies, and that major industry participants are generally present across multiple markets, market dynamics vary widely by region,” said TeleGeography analyst Erik Kreifeldt. “Regional bandwidth prices reflect not just supply, demand, and costs, but are also affected by more localized factors such as regulation, competition, and even geography.”

TeleGeography’s Wholesale Bandwidth Pricing Database provides more than 200,000 anonymous carrier price quotes for more than 180 key routes for bandwidth products ranging from 2 Mbps E-1 circuits to 40 Gbps wavelengths.

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