Every quarter, Akamai puts out a report called “The State of the Internet.” By utilizing the Akamai Intelligent Platform, it’s able to look at a number of metrics, including global average Internet speeds, attack traffic and browser popularity. It’s an excellent look at just how much Internet access and speeds have improved over the last three months.
In its latest report for Q2 2013, Akamai found that the average global Internet speed has increased 5.2 percent quarter-over-quarter to 3.3 Mbps. In an even better news, it found that the average global Internet speed has increased 9.2 percent year-over-year as countries around the world gain access to faster Internet speeds.
Akamai’s report from last quarter found global speeds sitting at 3.1 Mbps, and the quarter before that was clocked at 2.9 Mbps. In short, it appears that average global Internet speeds are increasing at a rate of .2 Mbps per quarter. It’s not the kind of progress that I want to see, but it’s an encouraging sign nonetheless. Besides, we might see even more progress as organizations like Internet.org and A4AI start to mobilize.
As is customary, let’s take a look at global average connection speeds on a country-by-country basis to remind ourselves just how piss poor Internet speeds are in the U.S.
In a not at all surprising revelation, South Korea comes in first with an average speed of 13.3 Mbps. What’s interesting here, however, is that South Korea’s average internet speed has been declining quarter-over-quarter (6.3 percent) and year-over-year (6.4 percent). Japan, however, has seen an incredible year-over-year increase of 11 percent to an average speed of 12 Mbps. Switzerland has muscled its way into third place with a year-over-year increase of 31 percent to an average speed of 11 Mbps.
Where does the United States sit on the top ten list? We’re at number 8 with an average speed of 8.7 Mbps. The good news is that this is a year-over-year increase of 22 percent. It’s still disappointing though to think that the country behind the Internet’s inception can’t even compete on the global stage in national average speeds.
To make us all feel a bit better, let’s take a look at the top average speeds among U.S. states. It’s gratifying to know that the top 10 states are at or above 10 Mbps, but it’s unfortunate that most of those states are in the New England area.
Interestingly enough, the number one state in average Internet speeds is not in New England as the District of Columbia (I know, not a state) has an average speed of 11.4 Mbps, or an increase of 17 percent year-over-year. Massachusetts and Virginia come in second and third place respectively with 11.2 Mbps and 11.1 Mbps average speeds.
Average speeds are a nice metric, but the best metric to measure U.S. broadband adoption is to see the percentage of people in a state that have speeds over what the FFC mandates as broadband speeds – 4 Mbps. Once again, New England makes up most of the top 10 list with 92 percent of Delaware residents having access to Internet speeds above 4 Mbps. Rhode Island and New Jersey come in second and third place respectively with 89 percent and 87 percent.
Beyond looking at the speed of landlines, it’s also becoming increasingly important to look at the amount of data that’s now being transferred through wireless data connections. After all, groups like Zuckerberg’s Internet.org are pushing for a future in which data will be consumed primarily via wireless devices. We’re not quite there yet, but the amount of wireless data the world chews through is already awe inspiring.
According to measurements taken by Ericsson, the world’s wireless devices consume a bit under 200 petabytes in voice data a month. That’s 214,748,364,800 worth of megabytes the world goes through each month in phone calls. That may seem like a lot, but it’s nothing compared to the 1,600 petabytes of wireless data the world consumes every month. I can’t even fit the number of megabytes that is into this article.
To put that into perspective, the report points out that the amount of voice data consumed by wireless devices has stayed pretty stagnant over the last six years. The amount of wireless data consumed, however, has increased from less than 10 petabytes a month in 2007 to over 1,600 petabytes this quarter. Going even further, monthly wireless data consumption rates have increased by about 100 petabytes every quarter since 2010.
The lesson here is that wireless data is where it’s at. That doesn’t mean wired connections are going anywhere, but it does mean that wireless devices are quickly becoming the dominant method in which people access the Internet around the world. Let’s just hope that wireless carriers don’t stand in the way of this progress by imposing heavy fees on those who are gaining a window into the world through these devices.