ME internet traffic growth world's 2nd fastest - report

Demand for high-bandwidth services such as online video is driving growth.

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By  James Exelby Published  September 3, 2008

Internet traffic in the Middle East has doubled every year since 2005 as connections have multiplied and users developed a taste for high-bandwidth services such as online video, a new study reports.

According to the findings of TeleGeography, a telecommunications research and advisory firm, global internet traffic - a measure of how much data are being sent across the world - increased 53 percent in the 12 months to June, the report, quoted by UAE daily The National on Wednesday, said.

In the Middle East, where the number of internet users has risen more than 10-fold since, traffic has surged 97 percent a year since 2005.

Only in the fast-growing economies of South Asia has traffic grown faster, at an average annual rate of 103 percent, the paper quoted the report as saying. 

By comparison, the slowest growing region of the world, North America, had increased its internet traffic by more than 50 percent each year on average, a significant figure given the region is the world’s largest consumer of internet bandwidth, it added.

There was a risk of future bottle-necks, however, it added. The region was shaken by widespread internet blackouts in late January, after the simultaneous failure of two major undersea cables off Egypt's Mediterranean coast.

The Middle East is connected to the rest of the world by only a handful of undersea cables, and the need for new capacity has long been recognised.

Every major telecommunications company in the region is involved in one or more international cable projects, with more than $1 billion of investment in new capacity announced last year alone, it said.

In the UAE, where internet penetration is the highest in the region, traffic growth comes largely from increased usage from existing subscribers, it added.

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