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Akamai reveals picture of global internet speeds
Thursday 09 August 2012 14:04:10 by Andrew Ferguson

Akamai publishes an quarterly report on the State of the Internet, and the Q1 2012 report has been published covering diverse statistics from IPv4 Exhaustion to Internet Disruptions in Australia. The area many people in the UK will focus on is where we stand with regards to connection speeds and broadband connectivity, and the short summary is that the UK is still way down the table, but showing increasing signs of improvement.

Rank Country Q1'12 Avg Mbps YoY Change
--- Global 2.6 25%
1 South Korea 15.7 9.4%
2 Japan 10.9 35%
3 Hong Kong 9.3 1.3%
4 Netherlands 8.8 18%
5 Latvia 8.8 38%
6 Switzerland 8.1 30%
7 Ireland 7.3 30%
8 Czech Republic 7.1 9.7%
9 Belgium 7.1 16%
10 Finland 6.9 39%

The table above excludes the UK, as our average measured connection speed according to Akamai is 5.6 Mbps, an improvement of 20% on last years result, but still only places us at 15th position across Europe, (21st in the global table).

Global Rank Country % Above 4 Mbps YoY Change
2 Netherlands 83% 20%
3 Switzerland 77% 29%
4 Belgium 73% 5.6%
9 Czech Republic 68% 6.4%
10 Romania 63% 4%
11 Denmark 62% 11%
12 Portugal 61% 4.3%
13 Hungary 60% 16%
15 Finland 59% 42%
16 United Kingdom 58% 35%
17 Germany 57% 30%

The above chart which shows the percentage of connections at 4 Mbps or faster moves the UK further up into 10th place in Europe. As with other statistics the UK is improving, but at the same time the rest of Europe is also improving, so if one ignores aspects like price, choice of provider and other metrics the UK looks unlikely to meet the Governments 2015 target of 'Best in Europe', but bringing those metrics into play then we would be a lot higher up the table.

The Akamai report is about actual observed speeds on Akamai services, so even countries that have very high adoption rates for fibre services may actually have low figures due to the fact that even with full fibre to the home there will still be contention in the core network. Also the report cannot measure those who have no internet connectivity, and the fact that take-up of broadband (fast or slow) is so high in the UK will actually do us no favours in these sorts of comparisons. A country where metro-ethernet (FTTB) is the only real internet service and is limited to the cities will feature higher up the charts, than those where even those in small villages (100+ homes) should have some connectivity.

The fact that 58% of UK connections can actually download at 4 Mbps or faster from Akamai servers is actually very good, when you consider that only around two thirds of phone lines are capable of these speeds.


Posted by NilSatisOptimum over 2 years ago
58% can achieve 4mbps! What percentage can get 5mbps 6mbps or 10mbps etc, no doubt percentages drop too levels that would rather not be discussed and only 15 places to go, to be the fastest in the EU by 2015.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
Average Peak Connection Speed
6 Netherlands 29.4 34%
19 Sweden 24.1 24%
22 United Kingdom 23.7 37%

Percentage above 10 Mbps
5 Netherlands 24% 33%
11 Sweden 14% 50%
27 United Kingdom 6.5% 86%

Seems low given amount of Virgin media cable that should be at 10 Mbps and faster, and their promotion of it averaging 31 Mbps on a 30 Mbps service.
Posted by jb_mac over 2 years ago
Virgin Media's network is extremely contented, you will get the advertised speeds only on speedtest websites. Ping is a good proof of that. I used to have a 50 meg Virgin connection with average ping of 26ms, now that I moved to Sky Fibre which is far less contented I'm getting average ping of 10ms.
Good thing about Akamai's stats is that they represent real-world numbers and take into account throttling & contention that ISPs don't advertise.
Posted by New_Londoner over 2 years ago
As commented on ISP review, the big limitation of reports like this is that any league tables are pretty much meaningless.

The data is fine to use in longitudinal studies, showing trends for a particular country or city, although even then it is not showing the speed of the broadband connections, but rather the speed of the link from Akamai’s kit to a device, which may be connected using dodgy in-building wiring or wi-fi. As we all know, these degrade the performance of the connection, as does other software running on the device, other devices sharing the link etc.

Posted by New_Londoner over 2 years ago

The reasons that the international league tables are even less valid are:

1. All the above limitations on the basic measurement methodology, bearing in mind for example that different levels of usage of wi-fi in different countries will skew the results by varying amounts – IIRC with wi-fi usage highest in the UK
Posted by New_Londoner over 2 years ago

2. The measurement is using the connection that is active to a given property, which may be the only one available (so the result is valid), or it may not. If it isn’t then all the results show is the average speed of the connections that people are opting to buy, which cannot be used to determine where the “best” broadband is – it may be somewhere else but people are not choosing to use it.
Posted by New_Londoner over 2 years ago

Does this matter? Well clearly the report does show trends in any given city or country, also covers a range of topics other than broadband speeds. However the press in this country at least seems to focus on the speed league tables which are, in my view, pretty meaningless as a way to compare networks between countries.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 2 years ago
It is the YoY change I focus on, and find it useful to help break the myth that contention and other factors are a UK problem and not an issue elsewhere.
Posted by JonnyH47 over 2 years ago
Hyperoptic's the way forward! I switched from BT last year and have never looked back. I subscribe to their 100 meg service and am getting 90 meg day-in day-out, regardless of the time of day. I've never seen the ping above 8ms. It's fantastic!
Posted by madkingsoup over 2 years ago
Interesting how well Finland does considering hardly anyone has a landline any more.
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