The shifting sands of global broadband speeds
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|
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|
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.