UK lags in European broadband stakes

Average broadband speeds in the UK have reached 5 megabits per second, making it the 25th fastest country in the world, though a laggard compared to many of its European brethren.The figure, published in Akamai's State of the Internet report for the second quarter of 2011 on Monday, shows that the UK still lags behind mainland Europe for both peak and average connectivity.

Average broadband speeds in the UK have reached 5 megabits per second, making it the 25th fastest country in the world, though a laggard compared to many of its European brethren.

The figure, published in Akamai's State of the Internet report for the second quarter of 2011 on Monday, shows that the UK still lags behind mainland Europe for both peak and average connectivity.

"Many countries in Europe are already recognised as leaders in high-speed internet connectivity, with some having implemented the equivalent of a national broadband plan, and others continuing to deploy fibre at a local level," Akamai wrote in the report. "The positive short-term and long-term trends for average peak connection speeds across European countries point to a continued improvement in high-speed internet connectivity within these countries."

The Netherlands was the fastest country from Europe with average broadband speeds of 8.5Mbps, followed by the Czech Republic with 7.4Mbps and Switzerland with 7.3Mbps. It came fourth worldwide, behind Japan at 8.9Mbps, Hong Kong at 10.3Mbps and South Korea with 13.8Mbps.

"I think, by and large, we have seen the trend heading in what I call the mid-direction," David Belson, Akamai's director of market intelligence, told ZDNet UK. "We're seeing a lot more usage and we've seen the average peak connection speed continue to grow over time... due to the increasing availability and speed of higher-speed broadband connections."

Belson said fibre-to-the-home and fibre-to-the-cabinet initiatives could be having an impact, causing average speeds to climb in countries where the technology has been rolled out.

The UK fared better in terms of general broadband connectivity, coming eleventh worldwide with over 91 percent of connected users having a speed of 2Mbps or greater, compared to first worldwide for Bulgaria with 97 percent and second worldwide for the Czech Republic with 95 percent. The UK government has vowed to get all of its citizens online at a minimum speed of 2Mbps by 2015.

Akamai's measurement of UK connectivity differs to the most recent average speed of 6.2Mbps given by Ofcom in May 2011 (PDF). Akamai measures broadband speeds via "at least" hundreds of servers in the UK and possibly thousands, Belson said. Akamai measures the time it takes from a file to be accessed to when it is downloaded, whereas Ofcom measures its speeds via broadband monitoring units connected to the routers of 1,710 people across the UK.

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