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Summary:

Akamai’s State of the Internet report for the second quarter of 2013 has promising news for the world, but less so for the United States.

akamaiglobe
photo: Akamai

In looking at the way that the internet is performing across the world in 2013, it’s very clear that many countries are hitting their stride and growing in terms of their adoption of broadband. However, that growth comes at a cost: the progression of the internet is signaling the beginning of the end of United States’ place in the top tiers of performance, according to Akamai’s latest State of the Internet report for the second quarter of 2013.

AkamaiQ22013IPv4Overall, the number of unique IPv4 addresses has swollen to over 752 million — approximately 18 million more than the first quarter to create a 2 percent increase overall quarter-over-quarter. While it sounds like a small number in the grand scheme of things, Akamai noted that the number of unique IPv4 addresses is slowly dwindling. As major gains continue in developing nations like Tanzania and Mozambique, the IPv4 address pool is quickly becoming exhausted. While the size of the web is getting bigger, internet connections are also becoming faster. The global average connection speed saw a 5.2 percent increase quarter-over-quarter to 3.3 Mbps. Even more important is the number of countries that have a connection speed of less than 1 Mpbs, which has dwindled to just 11 from 18 in the fourth quarter of 2012. Overall, this indicates that developing companies are increasing their average internet connection speeds, and already-developed nations are improving their infrastructure. The Global average peak connection speed increased just 0.1 percent to 18.9 Mbps, but more countries than ever are passing the 10 Mbps connection speed mark.

AkamaiQ2013BroadbandAverages

However, the increased sophistication of global internet networks has lead to the U.S. becoming outmoded in the top tiers of connectivity. While the U.S. remains eighth in average connection speeds, it no longer registers in the top 10 for peak connection speeds (which it has been left out of all year) and now rests at 10th in overall high broadband speeds. America is lodged in a flat period for broadband growth while smaller, developing countries to reach better connectivity. It’s high time to get gigabit networks deployed, or risk being left in the dust.

It’s important to note that IPv6 is gaining ground: while the 3.8% growth rate in the second quarter was uncharacteristically low compared to the four years Akamai has tracked it, 7,200 systems are now in the IPv6 routing table. But there’s a lot of work left to be done: As it stands now, the number of unique addresses correlates to roughly 1 billion users of the web in total. 

The State of the Internet report is Akamai’s quarterly analysis of internet connection and behaviors through data gathered by the company’s globally distributed server system, the Intelligent Platform. The report covers desktop and mobile internet connections in up to 175 countries all over the world.

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  1. Wow, you managed to find the 3% of the glass that is empty. The Akamai report, like most other international “rankings” includes countries and regions far smaller than the U.S., which has 316 million inhabitants and spans 3.8 million square miles. It is relevant to note that the area of Hong Kong is a mere 0.01% of the area of the U.S., and South Korea only covers 1% of the area of the U.S. [Switzerland 0.4%, Latvia 0.7%, Netherlands 0.4%] Given that most other countries are closer in size to U.S. states rather than the entire country, comparisons of states to foreign countries are most appropriate. In this most recent Akamai report, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and Virginia were found to have the 3rd, 4th, and 5th fastest speeds in the world, respectively. 6 U.S. states were among the 10 fastest regions in the world, and 9 U.S. states were among the 15 fastest regions. All told, 36 U.S. states plus DC recorded peak speeds of 30 Mbps or faster.

    The bottom line is that many U.S. states are among the fastest regions in the world. And if one wants to evaluate the average performance across all 50 U.S. states, the only appropriate comparison is to the EU, an equally diverse group of states of similar size in terms of both population and area.

    1. As an American who thinks this country is going downhill, I believe one of the problems is that we (as a whole) tend to refuse to acknowledge our weaknesses. Our internet sucks. All the Korean and Chinese students at my university (Northeastern, in Boston which I thought was a lot faster than what I have in my hometown) are constantly complaining about how horrible our internet speeds are. We need to step it up. Thank god Google’s fiber service is finally prodding some service providers to step it up.

  2. @ JP – Last time I checked, Sweden doesn’t build/manage/govern communications infrastructure in Finland… nor does Spain do the same for France (or any EU member)…. your desire for cross-country comparisons are null, Because of that, you really only can compare country to country. The article is trying to be all-encompassing by providing averages amongst varying countries as I’m sure there are pockets within each respective country that are higher than the national avg as well.

    Nevertheless, I found your addition to the article more than informative and like how it challenges the title and even relevance of this article…..

  3. Note this obvious factual error and misreading of the Akamai report: The writer claims: “While the U.S. remains eighth in average connection speeds, it no longer registers in the top 10 for peak connection speeds (which it has been left out of all year)….”

    The US has not been in the top 10 in peak connection speed since 2010. This metric disadvantages the US because it compares our rural network speeds to the all-urban networks in Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, et al.

    Akamai’s three speed metrics – average connection speed, average peak connection speed, and high-speed broadband adoption – are not that hard to understand. Work harder.

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