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Time to feel bad about UK broadband speeds again
Thursday 24 January 2013 11:32:47 by Andrew Ferguson

In the UK we tend to beat ourselves up about league tables and wail about how bad things are and then if we do come top at something we act all embarrassed. Based on the latest set of data on speeds seen by Akamai for people utilising their Content Delivery Network (CDN) the position is one where if it was a school report it would read something like 'the UK is performing well in class, but with some more effort and application the UK could push itself into the top section'.

Akamai State of the Internet Report Highlights for Europe
Click image for larger version

While the speed data produced by Akamai does not translate into a direct application for an individual's connection it can be used as one of several markers to judge our progress in what is a global economy. In terms of average speeds the UK showed a good increase and has a trend suggesting speeds are continuing to increase, perhaps reflecting the increased roll-out of superfast services by Openreach with a steady take-up and the myriad of other improvements across the UK, which range from much greater access to fixed wireless services to the small but increasing number of FTTH deployments.

Rank Country Q1'12 Avg Mbps Q2'12 Avg Mbps Q3'12 Avg Mbps
--- Global 2.6 3.0 2.8
1 South Korea 15.7 14.2 14.7
2 Japan 10.9 10.7 10.5
3 Hong Kong 9.3 8.9 9.0
4 Switzerland 8.1 8.4 8.7
5 Latvia 8.8 8.7 8.7
6 Netherlands 8.8 8.0 8.5
7 Czech Republic 7.1 7.2 7.6
8 Denmark 6.7 6.7 7.2
9 United States 6.7 6.6 7.2
10 Finland 6.9 6.6 6.8
17 UK 5.6 5.7 6.3

Given the current Government has a stated aim of being the best in Europe by 2015, looking at how we stand against other countries across Europe may be a better metric. The average peak speed represents the burst speed that was observed on connections and then averaged across the sample population. The fact that the burst is a lot higher for many countries simply represents the simple fact that broadband no matter whether wireless, using copper or fibre it is affordable only because it is a shared medium at some point, such that the speed we experience will vary depending on what the Internet population is up to.

Global Rank Country Q2'12 Peak Mbps Q3'12 Peak Mbps YoY Change
5 Romania 38.6 37.4 8.4%
6 Belgium 29.5 32.7 22%
7 Switzerland 29.9 32.4 30%
9 Israel 26.1 30.9 39%
11 Netherlands 27.9 30.7 10%
12 Hungary 28.0 30.0 22%
13 Portugal 27.8 29.8 20%
16 United Kingdom 24.5 28.1 41%
17 Czech Republic 25.8 27.3 23%
23 Germany 24.0 26.0 27%
24 Spain 23.8 26.0 38%
19 Sweden 23.6 26.9 28%
43 France 18.3 19.6 24%
46 Italy 17.4 19.2 19%

So we can celebrate that the UK is doing better than France and Germany, who share similar population sizes to the UK, which if one just wants to beat the major countries in Europe is good, but to be a true number one there is still lots more work to be done. In terms of climbing the league table the key is to be improving more than other countries.


Posted by WWWombat over 4 years ago
If "the key is to be improving more than other countries", then this appears to be exactly the case. The YoY change suggests this to be very much the case.

Does this survey represent the averages seen "per connection" or "per IP"? The former would give a reference for how one user (one PC) views access conditions, while the latter gives a reference for how a household (many shared devices behind 1 NAT IP) sees their access.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 4 years ago
Per IP I believe
Posted by adebov over 4 years ago
What you cannot factor for is the willingness [of a population] to embrace and pay for new technology and, in the case of internet connections, higher speeds.
Posted by adebov over 4 years ago
How much of our 16th/17th places has to do with low available internet speeds and how much has to do with the general population being either ignorant of the higher available speeds, simply not caring, not wanting to pay more than £5 a month for their internet, or just being unwilling to change providers (or being confused about how to do this, or simply being unaware they can - or that companies other than BT "do internet and phones").
Posted by adebov over 4 years ago
We already know huge proportions of the UK can get either Virgin 100Mbps or FTTC, they simply choose not to.
Posted by camieabz over 4 years ago
If the UK is to become the fastest by 2015, can the infrastructure cope with all the users having the speeds that will be required?

We might all (or 90% at least) get FTTx, but will the nation's backhaul handle it all?

It would be ironic, if not surprising that the statistic (peak) is achieved, but the user experience (average speed) is something completely different.
Posted by mervl over 4 years ago
So anyone that wants the fastest broadband in Europe should go and live in Romania or Latvia, hey? There's the answer to all our problems, then, courtesy of the EU - faster broadband and reverse migration. Nowt to do with the availability of landlines or even how widespread xDSL is, I suppose?
Posted by otester over 4 years ago
The whole average speed thing is retarded, availability is what counts.
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