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State of the Internet: Fiber, Fast Cities and Faster Broadband

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The last three months of 2010 were good for broadband, thanks to growing demand for high-speed connections and growing popularity of fiber-based networks in Asia and Europe, according to the State of the Internet Report put together by Cambridge, Mass.-based Akamai Technologies (s akam). According to Akamai data, the global broadband adoption at the end of 2010 was about 61 percent with nine of the top 10 countries having ended 2010 with broadband adoption levels of 90 percent or higher. Given that Akamai has a fairly large and global footprint, the Akamai data is a good proxy for overall trends.

Here are some salient stats from the report:

  • In South Korea, the average measured connection speed was 13.7 Mbps, up 11 percent compared to fourth quarter 2009.
  • Asia continued to dominate the top 100 fastest cities list in the fourth quarter of 2010, accounting for almost nine-tenths of the list: 60 cities in Japan, 16 cities in South Korea, and Hong Kong. Europe accounted for a dozen cities across eight countries. Of the remaining 11 cities, three were in Canada and eight in the United States.
  • South Korean cities Taegu and Taejon are the top two fastest cities, with average connection speeds of 18.4 and 17.2 Mbps, respectively.
  • South Korea and Japan, thanks to fiber broadband penetration, dominated the fastest 100 cities list.
  • Worldwide, 29 cities had average connection speeds in excess of 10 Mbps. Of these, 15 were in South Korea and 14 were in Japan.
  • The fastest city in Europe was Constanta, Romania, at 8.2 Mbps.
  • At 7.8 Mbps, Victoria, British Columbia was the city with the highest average connection speed in North America.
  • The global average peak connection speed grew to 8.8 Mbps, up over 30 percent year-over-year. Using the average peak metric — average of the maximum measured connection speeds across all of the unique IP addresses — Hong Kong is the fastest city, with an average of 37.9 Mbps.
  • On a year-over-year basis, global high broadband adoption grew 2.6 percent, ending the year at 23 percent. Anything higher than 5 Mbps is classified by Akamai as “high” broadband
  • In Japan, 58 percent of broadband connections are faster than 5 Mbps, while 36 percent of U.S. connections are faster than 5 Mbps.

Now let’s break down the key U.S. metrics:

  • In the U.S., three of every four connections to Akamai are at speeds above 2 Mbps.
  • In the U.S., during the fourth quarter of 2010, the average measured connection speed was 5.1 Mbps, up about 9.2 percent from the fourth quarter of 2009.
  • The overall average connection speed for the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2010 was 5.1 Mbps.
  • The U.S. had an average peak connection speed of 20.3 Mbps during the fourth quarter of 2010.
  • Delaware is the fastest state in the union with an average speed of 7.2 Mbps. The average peak connection speed metric is the speed end users’ Internet connections are capable of.
  • Delaware led the U.S. for broadband adoption in the fourth quarter 2010, with 97 percet of connections to Akamai at speeds above 2 Mbps.
  • The growing popularity of fiber-based networks and availability of higher speed cable connections meant three east coast cities — Staten Island, Jersey City and Boston Metro — became members of the top 10 U.S. broadband cities club.
  • In the fourth quarter 2010, four U.S. states had more than half their connections to Akamai at speeds above 5 Mbps.

The growing popularity of smartphones, tablets and other mobile connected devices has resulted in an explosion in the mobile broadband usage:

  • Of the 105 mobile network providers tracked by Akamai, 66 had average connection speeds above 1 Mbps in the fourth quarter 2010.
  • 48 wireless providers had average connection speeds in excess of 1 Mbps, while 18 providers had average connection speeds in the “broadband” (>2 Mbps) range.
  • Consumption grew quarter-over-quarter at 62 of the listed providers. For the fourth quarter of 2010, users of seven mobile providers consumed, on average, more than one gigabyte (1 GB) of content from Akamai per month.

15 Responses to “State of the Internet: Fiber, Fast Cities and Faster Broadband”

  1. Jason d

    Australia is currently rolling out a national broadband network of fibre to every house in the country. By 2015 the whole of Australia will have fibre connection speeds projected as 100MB per sec

    • Well that isn’t very nice lol.
      For what it’s worth, Canada has the highest adoption rate for Canada of any country in the world. I honestly suspect that is due to the sparse population that clusters in about nine large cities and the weather forcing people inside more than in warmer climates.

  2. The telcos are only trying to up their speeds and saturation in markets they already cover. There is no interest in expanding to those who have no coverage because this will cost them money to revamp and install. I am one of those that isn’t covered by any type of high speed or broadband. I don’t live in the “country” or the “boonies”. I live between two cities and only 5 minutes from I-5 in Washington. It’s all about the money they can make not the coverage.

    • This is where the cable companies who want to enter mobile data provision should make a play (ex. Time Warner) where they have the throughput to produce adequate data supply for rural mobile users and sell roaming back to the carriers.

    • Rich

      I think for now if you look at worldwide mobile networks, I think most of them are primarily 3G – HSPA+-based. By end of 2011 we are going to see a big shift to faster networks – the post 3G technologies that is.

    • We would like to think that but unfortunately we are not getting rid of fibers and cables anytime soon. As someone who uses Sprint’s excellent WiMAX network, I speak from experience when I say that.

      Also, the bigger challenge is that WiMAX isn’t going anywhere fast and the other competitive technologies are also limited by the spectrum and amount of bandwidth being fed into the network to handle the traffic.

    • The poor penetrative properties of WiMax make your argument seem as realistic as the Huxtable Family. In addition, mobile broadband carrier caps on LTE usage will keep fixed connections from going away for a long time.