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The shifting sands of global broadband speeds
Wednesday 17 October 2012 14:41:43 by Andrew Ferguson

The Q2 2012 Akamai Global State of the Internet has been published, so once more we get a chance to see if the UK is improving, or just treading water compared to the rest of the planet.

Akamai runs an extensive Content Delivery Network (CDN) and the data in the extensive report is based on analysis of the speeds which connections in a country were able to download content. This provides a metric independent of regulators across the world, and in theory should be outside the sphere of political influence.

Rank Country Q1'12 Avg Mbps Q2'12 Avg Mbps
--- Global 2.6 3.0
1 South Korea 15.7 14.2
2 Japan 10.9 10.7
3 Hong Kong 9.3 8.9
4 Latvia 8.8 8.7
5 Switzerland 8.1 8.4
6 Netherlands 8.8 8.0
7 Czech Republic 7.1 7.2
8 Denmark 6.7 6.7
9 United States 6.7 6.6
10 Finland 6.9 6.6
18 UK 5.6 5.7

The UK shows a small improvement in its average speed, which has pushed us three places up the EMEA scoreboard for that metric. If one considers the average of peak speeds seen in Europe the UK does better, surpassing countries that have much more extensive FTTH/B networks, which raises the interesting point of whether those who consider FTTH or bust to be the only way forward are actually correct, or whether the more boring stepped approach the UK is heading down is better.

Global Rank Country Q2'12 Peak Mbps YoY Change
4 Romania 38.6 15%
6 Switzerland 29.9 25%
7 Belgium 29.5 10%
9 Hungary 28.0 15%
11 Netherlands 27.9 10%
12 Portugal 27.8 6.2%
14 Israel 26.1 18%
15 Czech Republic 25.8 14%
19 United Kingdom 24.5 28%
20 Germany 24.0 20%
21 Spain 23.8 17%
22 Sweden 23.6 28%
43 France 18.3 18%
47 Italy 17.4 4.9%

The previous Culture Secretary promised ''I am today announcing an ambition to be not just the best, but specifically the fastest broadband of any major European country by 2015'. So the question is which major European countries are ahead of us? The countries with comparable population sizes are Germany (5.8Mbps), France (4.6Mbps), Italy (4Mbps), Spain (4.6Mbps), Poland (5Mbps), Turkey (2.7Mbps), Ukraine (4.4Mbps) and Russia (4.8Mbps) and only Germany of these is above us with respect to average speeds as seen by Akamai systems.

So while the UK picture is often portrayed as doom and gloom, there is some evidence that things are not perhaps as horrendous as some make out. This is not to say there are not plenty of parts of the UK with poor broadband, but this situation is repeated across many other countries, with our perception of the broadband infrastructure possibly clouded by PR spin released, or tours of the projects that are offering better speeds in some areas.

The question really for the UK is whether the improvements of the last couple of years will continue for the next few years, and if take-up of the various faster products can be improved in areas where it is available we stand a real chance of seeing multiple metrics showing major improvements. There is a chance that Jeremy Hunt's vision will come true.


Posted by Somerset over 4 years ago
Surely this relies on people actually buying fast packages, even where they are available.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
@Somerset Very much so, and as such hands those who question whether spending on full fibre networks is wise a perfect illustration or we can wait another 5 to 10 years before it is critically needed.

There was some data on Aus NBN showing high takeup percentages for their 100 Meg option, but it gave homes passed and percentages for the products, but no figures on overall take-up. So impossible to judge whether the takeup overall is good or bad on the 40,000 or so homes passed so far.

Yes UK has more homes passed by FTTH than Australias NBN
Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
Only around 32,000 premises have been passed by the NBN FTTP service so far, not great for a project costing over AUS37bn (£24bn)! As of September 2012, the NBN had 24,000 active services comprising of 6,400 active fibre services, 600 fixed-wireless services, and 17,000 satellite services.

44 percent of customers were on 100 Mbps down and 40 Mbps up service; 32 percent were on 25 Mbps down/5 Mbps up service; 15 percent were on the basic 12 Mbps down/1Mbps up service; 7 percent were on the 50Mbps down/20 Mbps up service; and 2 percent were on a 25 Mbps down/10 Mbps up.t
Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
Unsurprisingly it's getting some pretty negative comments for the slow pace, poor take-up etc, especially as cancellation would cost AUS$2.4bn!
Posted by vicdupreez over 4 years ago
Well, you got to remember that the NBN in Australia will be the ONLY way to access the internet once it is done (if it does get finished), since they are selling off the recovered copper once the fibre is in... You also need to remember that Aus is HUGE, and that it will take a while to get there. Furthermore, Aus has 22,784,954 people total against the UK's 62,262,000, so I am not surprised that there are more homes passed in the UK...

Posted by New_Londoner over 4 years ago
All good points, however it is way behind the original plan. So it's not about comparisons with the UK, this is partly about comparisons with what the NBN team claimed it would do vs the actual results.
Posted by themanstan over 4 years ago
Whilst Australia is huge, much of the population is squeezed into large urban centres.

Australia has an urban population density of ~90% and more than 50% of the population in the 5 largest cities and ~87% in the 20 largest population centres. So with respect to houses past in urban areas, they are having serious roll-out problems mainly with prices from tenders.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
Australia may be vast, but people are very concentrated in the coastal cities.

No idea where the fibre deployment is, just find lots of politics hiding the facts when I go looking.
Posted by Bob_s2 over 4 years ago
The problemin the UK is BT are not good at marketing and selling.

It would be sensible to do a targeted mailshot when FTTC becomes available taking care to only mail to households who cabinets have been enabled. This would almost certainly generate a reasonable number of orders

Clearly if BT put out the mailshot it would have to be ISP neutral
Posted by machanch over 4 years ago
Bob_s2 1... Sorry that does not necessarily work, I am bombarded with mails from BT and virgin every week about there services and deals.
I am satisfied with what I have so at this time I do not need fibre. The extra price for 3 time the speed does not interest me. I would use that extra money for something else. So I am sure lot of people would look at it that way.
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