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2021 vs 2020 – UK Broadband and Mobile Speeds vs the World

Thursday, December 30th, 2021 (12:01 am) - Score 2,616
World-broadband-download-and-upload-speeds

Today we’re taking our annual look back at how the United Kingdom’s position, at least in terms of the top 50 fastest countries for both fixed broadband and mobile broadband (4G, 5G) speeds, has changed since 2020. In short, the UK jumped from 42nd to 26th for mobile, while we fell slightly from 47th to 48th for fixed lines.

The following report was created by tracking the publicly available data released by Ookla, which runs the popular Speedtest.net service for benchmarking internet connection performance. In our experience, Ookla’s performance data has tended to weight more toward the optimistic side, but for the purpose of this article that issue isn’t such a concern because it applies equally to every country in the table.

The main differentiator for speeds between countries tends to stem from their balance of network availability and the take-up of faster connection types. For example, countries with high availability of “gigabit-capable” broadband networks (e.g. FTTP, DOCSIS 3.1), or strong 4G and 5G mobile availability (with plenty of radio spectrum), will usually rank highest in the table.

The United Kingdom has significantly improved its broadband and mobile infrastructure over the past decade, but such change is just as true in other countries, and more recently our development has struggled a bit to keep pace. In particular, the UK was late to begin truly large-scale Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) deployments, which has left us trailing much of the EU, as well as other countries (here).

Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that the UK is now making rapid progress on “full fibre” delivery (here and here) and we were also one of the earliest adopters of ultrafast 5G mobile technology. Lest we forget that Virgin Media’s upgrade to 1Gbps capable DOCSIS 3.1 has made such speeds available to around 65% of the UK. But there’s still plenty more work left to do.

The Top Fastest 50 Countries for Broadband

At the end of 2020 we recorded that the average (mean) global fixed line download speed was 87.84Mbps (47.16Mbps upload), while the average global mobile download speed was 39.18Mbps (11.63Mbps upload). In that same period, the UK ranked 47th for fixed broadband (76.49Mbps DL and 22.88Mbps UP) and just 42nd for mobile (41.72Mbps DL and 10.44Mbps UP).

By comparison, in 2021 we recorded that the average global fixed download speed was 116.89Mbps (64.73Mbps upload), while the average global mobile download speed was 68.44Mbps (13.79Mbps upload). Meanwhile, the UK ranked 48th for fixed broadband (104.04Mbps DL and 30.69Mbps UP) and 26th for mobile (89.72Mbps DL and 12.80Mbps UP).

Overall, the UK’s ranking has significantly improved for mobile (rising from 42nd to 26th), but we remain almost static for fixed broadband performance, largely because other countries continued to improve at a similar pace, and it takes time to build take-up of newer FTTP networks.

We should add that the average global latency on fixed broadband lines in 2021 was 18ms (21ms in UK) and 36ms on mobile (42ms in UK) – lower figures for this are faster. Otherwise, the following tables show how the countries compare, using only download speed as the key measure, across the top 50 countries. Sadly, Ookla don’t make it easy to do the same table for uploads or latency.

NOTE: Data is gathered by ISPreview at the same time in late November each year and uses a “mean” average (next year we will swap this to a “median“).

Fastest 50 Countries for Fixed Broadband Speed (DL)

  Country (2021) Mbps Country (2020) Mbps
1 Monaco  270.25 Singapore  229.42
2 Hong Kong (SAR)  260.35 Hong Kong (SAR)  215.19
3 Singapore  257.15 Romania  188.55
4 Romania  241.35 Switzerland  186.4
5 Switzerland  231.96 Thailand  183.58
6 Chile  227.77 Denmark  179.81
7 Denmark  226.13 Andorra  178.1
8 Thailand  223.72 France  177.93
9 South Korea  219.05 Hungary  169.52
10 France  218.84 Monaco  167.9
11 Hungary  215.19 United States  165.88
12 Spain  207.62 South Korea  162.4
13 United States  207.06 Spain  160.41
14 China  202.31 Sweden  158.73
15 Liechtenstein  196.43 Liechtenstein  154.78
16 United Arab Emirates  189.27 Macau (SAR)  154.34
17 Canada  185.04 Canada  149.35
18 Andorra  184.12 Norway  146.53
19 Japan  180.71 Luxembourg  144
20 Sweden  180.51 China  140.74
21 Macau (SAR)  179.72 Chile  140.23
22 New Zealand  179.49 New Zealand  139.82
23 Luxembourg  175.04 Japan  139.24
24 Norway  173.88 Taiwan  136.95
25 Netherlands  170.25 Portugal  131.5
26 Portugal  166 Netherlands  125.82
27 Israel  164.61 Lithuania  120.89
28 Moldova  163.45 Germany  120.13
29 Poland  160.3 United Arab Emirates  117.84
30 Taiwan  154.89 Malta  115.45
31 Kuwait  152.51 Latvia  115.22
32 Malta  150.52 Israel  113.48
33 Lithuania  148.93 Poland  111.81
34 Latvia  144.09 Kuwait  110.33
35 Germany  138.05 Finland  108.84
36 Panama  137.72 Panama  99.9
37 Finland  136.79 Barbados  98.79
38 Belgium  127.36 San Marino  98.73
39 Ireland  125.38 Belgium  97.32
40 San Marino  121.22 Moldova  93.51
41 Brazil  117.39 Ireland  93.34
42 Slovenia  117.02 Qatar  91.01
43 Slovakia  116.85 Malaysia  90.81
44 Qatar  112.81 Slovakia  90.65
45 Barbados  111.99 Slovenia  86.41
46 Malaysia  110.84 Russia  78.07
47 Italy  108.22 United Kingdom  76.49
48 United Kingdom  104.04 Saudi Arabia  75.42
49 Saudi Arabia  97.29 Italy  75.42
50 Russia  96.15 Estonia  74.73

Fastest 50 Countries for Mobile Speed (DL)

  Country (2021) Mbps Country (2020) Mbps
1 United Arab Emirates  273.87 South Korea  145.03
2 South Korea  214.47 United Arab Emirates  129.61
3 Qatar  178.83 China  124.39
4 Norway  178.7 Qatar  108.44
5 Kuwait  170.67 Australia  88.35
6 Cyprus  168.72 Netherlands  88.13
7 China  168.28 Norway  87.37
8 Saudi Arabia  164.81 Saudi Arabia  84.64
9 Bulgaria  153.72 Canada  84.54
10 Australia  147.77 Bulgaria  77.3
11 Switzerland  136.58 Switzerland  73.85
12 United States  124.41 Denmark  66.68
13 Sweden  116.75 Croatia  66.31
14 Croatia  116.26 Singapore  64.06
15 Denmark  114.5 Luxembourg  62.26
16 Luxembourg  113.25 New Zealand  61.27
17 Netherlands  107.96 North Macedonia  60.3
18 Singapore  107.12 Kuwait  58.95
19 Canada  100.88 Taiwan  58.71
20 Taiwan  96.97 Cyprus  58.66
21 Bahrain  94.67 Belgium  58.12
22 Greece  93.23 Sweden  56.64
23 Finland  91.62 Albania  56.44
24 France  91.22 Hong Kong (SAR)  56.33
25 Hong Kong (SAR)  89.93 Austria  55.19
26 United Kingdom  89.72 Finland  53.89
27 Germany  88.87 United States  53.44
28 New Zealand  85.11 Lithuania  53.39
29 Oman  83.42 Bahrain  50.5
30 Slovenia  76.65 France  50.45
31 Estonia  75.21 Germany  49.67
32 Brunei  72.27 Estonia  48.82
33 Japan  71.97 Serbia  48.44
34 Austria  71.53 Czechia  46.57
35 Belgium  70.54 Slovenia  45.77
36 Thailand  67.35 Macau (SAR)  44.94
37 Lithuania  66.09 Hungary  43.6
38 Czechia  65.88 Portugal  43.27
39 Hungary  65.17 Malta  42.19
40 Spain  64.44 Spain  41.98
41 Ireland  64.23 Trinidad and Tobago  41.81
42 North Macedonia  63.52 United Kingdom  41.72
43 Maldives  62.14 Romania  41.48
44 Portugal  62.11 Montenegro  41.47
45 Malta  61.74 Oman  41.24
46 Romania  61.7 Greece  41.16
47 Macau (SAR)  58.71 Lebanon  41.03
48 Italy  58.18 Italy  40.65
49 Albania  57.47 Slovakia  39.78
50 Slovakia  57.37 Moldova  39.02

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
20 Responses
  1. Sam says:

    I’d do anything to see an improvement in 2022 to 4G speeds as well as FTTP rollout. 62 meg is a speed I would consider not good enough considering I’ve been getting the same speed now since 2014… I have used my bros 900mb connection and it’s game changing!

    1. Brett says:

      lucky u, ive had 25mb from when fttc was installed “around 2015ish”

      im weeks away from a 1gig up 1gig down thanks to cityfibre!

      I CANNOT WAIT!!!

    2. Disgruntled of Dankshire says:

      @Brett
      I am with you and raise your 25Mbs to my 22Mbs.

    3. Jason says:

      Ive got 900meg and can’t notice a difference only when downloading the odd film . Im switching back down to 80meg plan at the end of this term . Not worth the hype .

    4. Buggerlugz says:

      The problem isn’t just the poor quality implementation of 4G in the UK, but the level of overselling impacting your service negatively during your contract. 4G like 5G needs a continual level of investment to maintain, but none of the carriers are even trying.

      Until they do, it simply won’t become a viable alternative to fixed lines.

    5. Gary H says:

      While I can always understand that those not on a current FTTP rollout may feel aggrieved, moaning that you’re still on FTTC after 7 or more years yet enjoying 20 times the speed my adsl line could manage since that tech was introduced, some of my neighbours are getting .5M fixed line if they’re not able to get a 4G connection.

    6. Mike says:

      Mobile will always be terrible in the UK because the government fleeces the network providers at every auction and then pours the money down the drain.

  2. Nick says:

    The only thing the UK is “World Beating” in is diverting taxpayers funds to your mates

    1. Mark says:

      The only thing the UK is “World Beating” in is diverting taxpayers funds to your mates

      I think we are only average at that too.

      Remember in the real world for the vast majority of people who are not represented on this site their broadband speed is more than enough. Maybe they would think government money should be spent elsewhere ?

    2. Buggerlugz says:

      Absolutely. If the government had used as much taxpayer money to invest in digital infrastructure as they invest in their own pockets over the past 2 years the UK would have the worlds fastest broadband now.

  3. Me says:

    It’s just another example of the utterly embarrassing infrastructure and total lack of effort by the government to change it in the U.K. Brazil is ahead of us even! Countries several times the size of the U.K. are on much faster average speeds.
    But no we must have a useless train that will get a minority group somewhere 10 minutes faster instead…. or I see the latest was a Tory peer using tax payers money to fix potholes in their driveway… not that Labour have done much more for U.K. broadband speeds and infrastructure, IMO.

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      Maybe if we stopped spending taxpayers money on illegal economic migrants to floating across the channel and spent it on ourselves instead eh….theres a thought!

      Daily boat trips back to the nearest French beach is far cheaper.

    2. 125us says:

      Racism doesn’t make broadband faster lugz. Spirit of Christmas completely lost on you I see. Still, as long as you have someone to look down on, eh?

  4. NE555 says:

    “in 2021 we recorded that the average global fixed download speed was 116.89Mbps (64.73Mbps upload)”

    That upload speed is surprising. That’s faster even than Virgin’s top package. It must be *massively* skewed by a handful of people on symmetric altnets, and/or people on Openreach 900/110 package. Also, by the fact that people who pay for high speed links are more likely to run speedtests than everyone else.

    Can we please have median rather than mean?

    1. NE555 says:

      (Can’t edit post) Sorry, the UK figures were 104.04Mbps DL and 30.69Mbps UP. Even so it seems surprisingly high.

      I think median would be well below these – i.e. the few people on high speeds are badly skewing the figures upwards, while the people on very low speeds have proportionately little impact.

      A geometric mean would also be more meaningful than arithmetic mean.

    2. Buggerlugz says:

      The problem with mobile data stats at least is the time of day the testing takes place and which test results Ookla use. Its also impossible to make the figures viable considering location and mast contention across the country, so IMHO any figures can be taken with a pinch of salt.

  5. Mark says:

    Also if I do a speedtest wired from my router its about 150Mb where on the wifi its more like 50-100 depending where I am in the house is that the UK infrastructures fault that I don’t invest in the latest mesh system ?

    So basically an none story mainly for publicity for speedtest.net

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      yep, we get a lot of them on here. Must their profile.

  6. DaveIsRight says:

    Is it not of a massive embarrassment that much much larger geographically challenged countries have way faster broadband than the UK? Or countries considered to be almost third world are not just higher but considerably higher?

    I think the “difficulties” in the UK are massively overblown and it’s clear we have a pretty terrible approach to all this.

    For those saying this isn’t accurate or that the figures can’t be trusted does it matter all that much? While the pure figures might be wrong the relative differences will still be right so seeing how we stack up against other countries (hint extremely badly) is the message we should take from this.

    I guess the point being is that if the figures are overblown then we’re actually doing a lot worse than it suggests. This wouldn’t surprise me…

    1. Mick says:

      “..much much larger geographically challenged countries have way faster broadband than the UK”

      – Countries with a lot of their population living in tower blocks will always be quicker/easier to fibre up. This will push the average up, but also hide the long tail of properties in rural areas that have little or no access the Internet. The UK has 97%+ >24Mbps, I wonder how that compares the the ‘much larger countries’ here?

      – As has been said many times here, there are many people in the UK that could choose much faster speeds, but they just have not done so (yet). Reports like this, based on chosen speeds, don’t shame the UK’s slow Internet, it may just show that people in the UK have a range of options and many still chose a slower/cheaper option. Countries that didn’t benefit from the rapid/cheap and almost country wide FTTC upgrade won’t have that range of choice and so the average speed will be higher.

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