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Q1 2017 – Average Global Broadband Speeds Top 7.2Mbps as UK Hits 16.9Mbps

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017 (11:21 am) - Score 3,522
world network and broadband connections

Akamai‘s first quarter ‘State of the Internet‘ report has revealed that the global average fixed line broadband download speed is now 7.2Mbps (up 2.3% from 7Mbps in Q4 2016) vs 16.9Mbps in the United Kingdom (up 3.6% from 16.3Mbps). The UK’s country ranking has also risen from 16th to 15th.

Happily this quarter sees the return of Akamai’s data for average peak connection speeds, which was skipped in their Q4 2016 study due to some unspecified “data issues that affected peak speed calculations.” We should also point out that the UK remains ahead (performance wise) of the EU’s other four major economies (i.e. France, Germany, Italy and Spain).

As usual we need to state that Akamai’s data is based on the performance of their global Content Delivery Network (CDN), which accounts for around 15-30% of all web traffic. However the type of data that this collects will not accurately reflect actual end-user connection speeds, although their data can still be a useful gauge of global change; when taken in the correct context.

Similarly the company’s data does not reflect raw network availability, which means that the UK’s performance will be dragged down by the fact that roughly half of all fixed line broadband connections are still being delivered via slow copper ADSL lines. This is an important caveat because “superfast broadband” (24Mbps+) connections are estimated to cover around 93% of the country, although many haven’t upgraded.

UK Fixed Line Broadband Performance Q1 2017 Q4 2016 Q3 2016
% of Users Able to Achieve 4Mbps+ 92% 91% 90%
% of Users Able to Achieve 10Mbps+ 60% 57% 53%
% of Users Able to Achieve 15Mbps+ 42% 39% 35%
Peak Download Speed 76.1Mbps no data 62.9Mbps
Average Download Speed
16.9Mbps 16.3Mbps 14.9Mbps
Global Country Ranking (Average Speeds) 15th 16th 20th

It’s also worth highlighting that most of the fastest countries for fixed line broadband speed are not major economies (measured by GDP), although quite a few of the top ones do have strong coverage of ultrafast fibre optic (FTTP/H) networks.

In keeping with that, South Korea continues to have the highest average connection speed in the world at 28.6Mbps (up 9.3% during Q1) and Singapore maintained its position as the country with the highest average peak connection speed of 184.5Mbps.
akamai q1 2017 average top 10 global country broadband speeds
Naturally it may be more constructive to see how the UK compares against other countries in Europe, which at least places us in the top third and ahead of other major economies like Italy, France, Spain and Germany.

However once again it’s the smaller states, particularly those with a lot of pure fibre optic cables in the ground (e.g. Sweden), that tend to hold the top spots. Mind you this may start to change after late 2017 as Virgin Media and Openreach (BT) continue to boost their top broadband speeds through new services and technologies (G.fast, FTTP, DOCSIS 3.1 etc.).
akamai q1 2017 average top 20 europe country broadband speeds
Akamai’s report also includes a small slice of data on the 3G and 4G data performance of Mobile Network Operators (i.e. Mobile Broadband / 3G / 4G), which is one area where the United Kingdom tends to do better and indeed we’re still the fastest country in Europe, with average mobile connection speeds of 26Mbps (down from 26.8Mbps in Q4 2016).

Fastest Countries for Mobile Data by Region
• Americas: United States, 10.7Mbps
• Asia Pacific: Australia, 15.7Mbps
• Europe: United Kingdom, 26Mbps
• Middle East/Africa: Kenya, 13.7Mbps

However the reported mobile speeds should be taken with a pinch of salt because they can easily be impacted by the use of proxies (these exist within many mobile operators) and thus we consider the data to be unreliable. A perhaps more useful measure is to look at the data from speedtests collected by Ookla (here), which suggests that the UK’s average mobile download speed (24.63Mbps) ranks 32nd in the world and 22nd in Europe.

On the other hand Ookla’s data is also far from perfect and in the past we’ve questioned how their results are weighted (i.e. they tend to cut out a large chunk of the slowest speedtests). Alternatively OpenSignal recently reported that the UK ranked 26th fastest in the world for Mobile Broadband (3G / 4G) with an overall speed of 15.13Mbps (here). This just goes to show that there are a lot of variations, depending upon how the data is collected and analysed.

Suffice to say that we don’t cover Akamai’s Mobile Connectivity aspect much due to the potential for misleading results.

Akamai’s State of the Internet Q1 2017 Report
http://www.akamai.com/stateoftheinternet/

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