When it comes to average connection speeds, all of the top 10 countries experienced positive year-over-year changes in average connection speeds, according to Akamai (News - Alert).
Globally, a total of 125 countries experienced year-over-year increases and only 10 countries that qualified for inclusion saw declines in connection speeds, Akamai says. The global average connection speed in the first quarter was 2.6 Mbps.
Once again, South Korea (15.7 Mbps) featured the fastest average connection speed. Countries/regions rounding out the top five included Japan (10.9 Mbps), Hong Kong (9.3 Mbps), the Netherlands (8.8 Mbps) and Latvia (8.8 Mbps).
Year-over-year, the global average peak connection speed increased by 25 percent, and increases were also seen across all of the top 10 countries.
Globally, nearly 130 qualifying countries saw year-over-year increases in average connection speeds, ranging from 3.8 percent growth in Pakistan (to 5.9 Mbps) to a 213 percent jump in Libya (to 3.8 Mbps). Only five countries saw a yearly decline in average peak connection speed, with the greatest loss in Tanzania, which dropped 21 percent (to 5.1 Mbps).
In the first quarter, Hong Kong took the top spot for average peak connection speed (49.3 Mbps), dropping South Korea (47.8) to second place. The remaining top five included Japan (39.5 Mbps), Romania (38.8 Mbps) and Latvia (33.5 Mbps).
Some evidence of the overall growth of broadband speeds is that “broadband” is being redefined by Akamai to include connections to Akamai of four Mbps or greater, up from the two Mbps baseline that was used from 2008 to 2011.
Likewise, “high broadband” is being redefined to include connections to Akamai of 10 Mbps or greater, up from the five Mbps baseline that was used from 2008-2011.
In the U.S. market, for example, some 60 percent of all measured connections operated above four Mbps, with a quarter-over-quarter change from the fourth quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2012 of 9.4 percent. The year-over-year change was 19 percent.
To be sure, the United States, which ranks about 14th on the Akamai list of countries with the fastest connections, will probably continue to lag for a while. For a variety of reasons related to geography, customer density and service provider costs, the United States virtually never appears in the ranks within the top 10 countries with the fastest broadband or the most affordable broadband.
Historians will recall that even in voice services, the United States ranked about 14th in “tele-density” on a global basis, even when virtually nobody considered “voice access” to be a serious problem.
The fact that the United States ranks about 14th on the Akamai access speed index therefore should come as no surprise. That is where one would expect the United States to rank, globally, given its continental size, more expensive loop lengths and therefore higher construction costs. It is not accident that the leaders in broadband tend to include smaller countries or those where the government is subsidizing costs.
It would be a reasonable expectation that U.S. speeds will increase over time, just as they are growing, everywhere. But there is no particular reason to believe the cost of supplying faster speeds in the U.S. market will change dramatically, Google (News
- Alert) Fiber notwithstanding.
Broadband retail pricing is another sore point, but some would simply note that retail prices everywhere bear a rather direct relationship to cost of construction.
The latest Akamai report shows nearly universal increases in broadband access speeds globally. But, none of those changes should be expected to change the relative positions of most countries in the global rankings.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein