Every quarter, Akamai releases a report called "The State of the Internet." In the previous report, Akamai found that broadband speeds had fallen on a global level. Thankfully, the latest report indicates that speeds are rising yet again.
Akamai reports that average global connection speeds rose 5 percent to 2.9 Mbps in Q4 2012. That may not seem like much, but many countries in Africa and Southeast Asia are still seeing average speeds of 500-800 Kbps. Those countries are only seeing less than one percent increase in speeds each quarter, but recent initiatives may help bring them up to speed sooner rather than later.
On a country-by-country basis, South Korea is still king with an average speed of 14 Mbps. Japan is second with 10.8 Mbps and Hong Kong is in third with 10.8 Mbps. The United States was ranked in eighth place with an average speed of 7.4 Mbps.
Every country in the top 10, except for South Korea, saw average broadband speeds increase. Japan saw a year-over-year increase of 19 percent, Hong Kong saw a year-over-year increase of 5.4 percent, and the U.S. saw a year-over-year increase of 28 percent.
The top 10 positions are largely the same when it comes to countries with high broadband (speeds over 10Mbps) connections. South Korea is in first place with 49 percent of the country with high broadband internet followed by Japan and Hong Kong with 39 percent and 28 percent respectively. The United States is in eighth place again with only 19 percent of the country having high broadband.
When looking specifically at the United States, the Northeast largely remains the place to be if you want consistently high Internet speeds. Vermont takes the number one spot with average speeds of 10.8 Mbps followed by Delaware and the District of Columbia with 10.6 Mbps and 10.2 Mbps respectively.
It's largely the same when looking at the states with the highest amount of the population with access to high broadband. In this case, New Hampshire comes in at the top spot with 34 percent of its residents having access to speeds higher than 10 Mbps followed by the District of Columbia and New Jersey with both at 33 percent.
As for Internet penetration, Akamai says that nearly 700 million unique IPv4 addresses connected to its platform in the last quarter. That's a 4.2 percent jump from Q3 2012 and a 13 percent jump from Q4 2011. With a single IP address potentially representing numerous users, Akamai estimates that there are over one billion unique Web users on the Internet today.
It should be noted that not every Internet user connects to Akamai, but a great deal of them do. Akamai's numbers are about the closest we'll get to the actual number of people who are now connected to the Internet.
On a final note, Akamai says that global attack traffic (i.e. DDoS attacks) increased by 200 percent in 2012. Unsurprisingly, 41 percent of that attack traffic originated from China in Q4 with the United States coming in second with 10 percent of all attack traffic.
Despite the worrying increases in attack traffic over the last year, Akamai's report is incredibly encouraging. We like to complain about our ISPs, and for good reason, but these reports always help to put things into perspective. Our Internet speeds are slowly rising, and they're rising faster than in other parts of the world. With the spread of Google Fiber and Gigabit Squared, we might start to see the U.S. rise up the ranks in forthcoming quarterly reports.
You can get a copy of Akamai's State of the Internet Report here. If you don't want to read 45 pages of analysis and charts, you can read the two-page executive summary here.