More on Subsea Bandwidth

Am update, clarifying post from Telegeography on my subsea bandwidth post which contained a figure from JPMorgan:

Demand for undersea cable capacity continues to grow rapidly; we project that trans-Atlantic requirements will grow a bit less than 50% in 2011, while trans-Pac demand will grow slightly more than 50%. However, the potential capacity of undersea cables is not static, either. Advances in optical technology, such as higher bit rates (e.g. 40 Gbps transponders) and narrower channel spacing have enabled submarine cable operators to increase the potential capacity of existing submarine cables far beyond their initial design capacity. For example, on the trans-Atlantic route, potential capacity increased from 18 Tbps in 2002 to 50 Tbps in 2009, due almost entirely to technological improvements.

There may be new cable builds in the next few years—it’s just unlikely that they’ll be driven chiefly by the need for more capacity.

So, the gist: Existing fiber is carrying increased data, so it’s imprecise to say that the fibers themselves are saturated. A better way of putting, which was really Cembalest’s point, is that new waves of investment are coming, in response to increased undersea bandwidth demands. That does not, of course, mean the saturation of the existing fiber cable plant.