The Web Just Keeps Getting Bigger (and Faster!)

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Akamai’s third-quarter Internet traffic report — which should be released on Monday — shows there’s no stopping the growth of either broadband or the overall web itself. In the third quarter of 2010, more than 533 million unique IP addresses from 235 countries/regions, connected to the Akamai network — about 6.6 percent more IP addresses than the second quarter of 2010, and 20 percent more than the same quarter a year ago. Akamai, which provides content-delivery services for a variety of media companies, gets the data by tracking connections to its servers.

Globally, the web — as measured by the number of IP addresses — continued to grow.
Seven of the top 10 countries experienced double-digit percentage increases in IP addresses in the year-over-year period, and China grew by more than 30 percent in the last year, adding approximately 15 million unique addresses.

Broadband connections continued to get faster worldwide as well, and for the most part became more widespread. The top country, South Korea, has an average speed of 14 Mbps. However, the U.S. doesn’t rank on the list of Top 10 (it’s No. 12) or even have any entries in the Top 50 fastest cities when it comes to average broadband speeds.

The fastest U.S. city is San Jose, Calif. and it hits the list ranked 57. Way down the list at 83 sits Freemont, Calif.– the next fastest U.S. city. In a ranking of cities within the U.S. during the third quarter, the city view of average peak connection speeds in the U.S. was dominated by cities on the West Coast, with the Boston Metro market as the sole East Coast location in the top 10.

However, the U.S. has it better than some parts of the world — it has seen connection speeds rise by 30 percent in the last year. Broadband adoption within the U.S. was strong in the third quarter, with all of the top 10 states seeing broadband adoption of 80 percent or more. Four states within the top 10 (Delaware, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Hawaii) achieved 90 percent or greater adoption. Nearly all of the states saw broadband adoption of 50 percent or more, with only Idaho (49 percent) and Iowa (46 percent) lagging.

Broadband users appear to be adopting higher-speed services globally as well, with 27 percent of connections ranging between 5-10 Mbps, while 7 percent are now above 10 Mbps. And then there’s the mobile broadband statistics: average data consumption experienced by mobile providers grew during the third quarter on 101 of the 111 listed providers.

Mobile is getting a bit faster, especially in other parts of the world. Akamai saw 15 mobile providers achieving speeds in excess of 10 Mbps, and all but two of the 111 listed providers achieved speeds of 1 Mbps or more. When it came to data consumption, Akamai measured the amount of content mobile providers were calling for on its servers, which isn’t representative of all data consumption. However, it saw an increase in demand at most mobile operators.

Discounting two providers in Canada and Indonesia where we believe proxy/gateway architectures are in use, we found eight mobile providers in Slovakia, Puerto Rico, Germany, Hong Kong, Australia, France and Austria whose users, on average, consumed more than one gigabyte (1 GB) of content from Akamai per month during the third quarter. Users on an additional 79 mobile providers around the world downloaded more than 100 MB of content from Akamai per month during the third quarter, while users on 22 providers downloaded less than 100 MB.

Of course, as mobile content consumption and smartphone adoption increase, expect the web to get even bigger, mobile networks to rise in speed and wireline networks to potentially stagnate, and perhaps even a decline in adoption among some users who will substitute faster mobile broadband for a wired connection. Personally, I don’t think that’s a good thing, but I bet we’ll see it happen anyway.

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