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By: MarkJ - 18 October, 2010 (7:34 AM)
cisco logoThe latest (third) Cisco Systems study of world fixed-line and Mobile Broadband Internet leadership, which is based on research conducted by the Saïd Business School at Oxford University, has placed the UK in 18th position (up from 25th in 2009) and outside of those countries deemed to be prepared for the internet "applications of tomorrow".

The research looked at broadband quality in 72 countries (239 cities) and found that just 14 were prepared for the online applications of tomorrow, which is actually a huge improvement over 2008 when just 1 country was deemed to be ready. However the UK did manage to fit into the next best group of "Comfortably enjoying today's applications".

cisco future internet broadband demand chart 2010

Overall, thanks to a range of investments in infrastructure, global broadband quality has improved by 50% in just three years and penetration of broadband continues to get better, with about half of the households (49%) of the countries investigated now having access (40% in 2008).
World Broadband Speed and Latency
* The average global download speed has increased 49% in just three years (3,271 Kbps in 2008, 4882 Kbps in 2009 and 5,920 Kbps in 2010).

* The average global upload speed has increased 69% in three years (794 Kbps in 2008, 1,345 Kbps in 2009. 1,777 Kbps in 2010).

* Average latency has fallen by 25% to 142ms. This is slightly up from 140ms in 2009, but still significantly lower than 189ms in 2008.
Broadband consumption patterns were also found to be diverging, from a basic household requiring over 2Mbps and consuming about 20GB (GigaBytes) per month, to a smart and connected home commanding over 20Mbps and a consumption of 500GB per month! UK ISPs take note, ouch.

The study revealed that ISPs who offered a significant higher quality of broadband increased their market shares. Incumbents that provided fibre optic connections, and were unchallenged, increased their market share by up to 13% in just 2 years. Alternative providers that offered higher quality broadband also showed market share gains, up to 96%, albeit from a smaller customer base.

Meanwhile Mobile Broadband quality has improved too, with 10% of users enjoying similar quality experiences compared to those with fixed-line services. The average mobile download speed is now 936Kbps (0.9Mb), up 35% from 2009 and upload is now 277Kbps (0.27Mb), an increase of over 100% from 2009. Separate UK studies have shown similar figures to the world mobile average (i.e. around 1.2Mbps for downloads).

However 30% of Mobile Broadband users experience download throughputs above 1.3Mbps (the threshold for today´s applications in mobile) and 10% are enjoying average download speeds of 3.75Mbps and uploads of 1Mbps, with latency below 110ms.

Tony Hart, Associate Fellow at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, said:

"If I had to pick one key aspect of this year's study, it would be the unprecedented speed at which a country can become a broadband leader. While average broadband quality has improved by 20% in three years and penetration by 22%, some countries have seen improvements of over 50% in this time. Some emerging economies, such as Latvia and Bulgaria have been able to show improvements in broadband leadership of around 60% in just one year.

Kenya has the record with a 174% improvement over three years―albeit from a very small starting point. Compared to the many growth-enabling infrastructures of the past – the telephone, electricity, railways, etc. – which took many decades or even centuries to impact the wider population, we can see that high quality Internet access can have an impact on the bulk of the population within just a few years, and its impact will reach the developing world much faster than any other technology of the past."

The report, which uses data from 40 million Internet speed tests conducted by speedtest.net, noted that the strongest emerging economies were those that focused on bringing the best broadband to their cities. 38 cities were found to have the broadband quality required for the applications of tomorrow. The report doesn't mention the Digital Divide that this will inevitably cause.

As usual, South Korea tops the broadband leadership ranking for the second year in a row with average download throughput of 33.5Mbps, an increase of 55% from 2009, and average upload throughput at 17Mbps, an increase of 430%. Average latency is 47ms, an improvement of 35% over 2009.
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