League tables always make for good headlines, as the headline to this item shows. The Akamai State of the Internet report for Q2 2011 has resulted in a flurry of headlines about how poor the UK is doing compared to its European neighbours, though not as bad as France which many look towards as a country with much wider availability of fibre networks.
The reality becomes more apparent when you consider the source for the Akamai report. The data is collected by analysing the speed at which material is delivered using the firms own Content Delivery Network and various comparisons can then be made about the online population in each country.
The problem with this approach is that in a country where it is only the rich or those in the enabled parts of the country with access then the results may be skewed. A look at the Google public data explorer gives data on broadband penetration across Europe (graph shows number of broadband connections per 100 inhabitants) shows how varied broadband penetration is across Europe. So Romania at 13.7 has a much smaller penetration than the UK at 30.6, and a further look at the Wiki entry for Romania reveals more information. Mainly that fibre started to appear as a replacement for existing widespread LAN/WAN's in 2006, with it appears most connectivity concentrated in the cities. If the UK had concentrated on rolling out broadband purely to the cities it is very likely our results in the Akamai data would be very different. Also the UK broadband market is one that is driven by price, with the large number of comparison sites creating a competitive market as providers try to undercut each other, which to some extent has resulted in millions now thinking that broadband that costs more than £10 a month is expensive, hence the low take-up of super-fast solutions in some of the areas it has been available to for over a year. The take-up of higher speed services at Virgin Media could be seen as driven by the number of free network upgrades offered over the years.
We are not saying the UK is perfect broadband wise, we have come to the fibre table later than most, but with a Year on Year change of 70% in the number managing to download from Akamai at 5Mbps or faster (30% of results) we would appear to be making up some of the lost ground at last, and we are able to write about fibre deployments a lot more frequently than 12 months ago.
For those who like collecting their stats, we have included a summary table of average connection speeds.
|Global Rank||Country/Region||Q2 2011 Avg. Mbps||Quarter on Quarter Change||Year on Year Change|