Akamai shows global and US internet speeds increasing

Akamai's latest report shows the Internet speeding up almost everywhere in the latest quarter. But, fast enough and in enough places to meet our hunger for Internet video? That's another matter.

Major ISPs, such as AT&T and Verizon, are pleading with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) not to boost its definition of broadband to 10 Megabits per second (Mbps) from its current benchmark of 4Mbps. Ironically, Akamai's latest report on The State of the Internet for the 2nd quarter of 2014, says "a total of 39 states saw 4K readiness rate more than double over the past year." That is to say, these states saw a major increase in the availability of the 15Mpbs speed needed for 4K video.


That may not be as good as its sounds. 

True, overall, Akamai found that the United States "showed modest to strong quarterly increases in average connection speeds." That's a good thing because now, more then ever, we're watching our television and movies over the internet via YouTube and Netflix. We're even turning to the internet for our football these days. All that video requires serious broadband.

Akamai's numbers also showed that "all of the top 10 states had average connection speeds above the 'high broadband' of 10 Mbps threshold, as did 19 additional states across the country. The quarter-over-quarter trend was overwhelmingly positive, with four additional states joining Delaware, Washington, and Connecticut in having quarterly growth rates of 10 percent or more."

So with all these speed increases, why are the ISPs dragging their feet about changing broadband's definition? Perhaps it's because even at today's lower barrier—4 Mbps—broadband adoption rates are all over the place. Half of the states are seeing more while the other half are seeing less.

I suspect what's happening is that urban areas, which are easier to bring broadband to, are indeed getting fatter and faster pipes while the suburbs and rural areas are still scrabbling along with DSL and even—the horror!—dial-up. For example, I was dismayed, but not surprised, to see my home state of West Virginia remain at the bottom of the internet adoption rankings with only 55 percent.

Globally, the average connection speed increased 21 percent from the first to second quarter of the year. At 4.6 Mbps, the global average connection speed exceeded the 4 Mbps “broadband” threshold for the first time.

South Korea, which made bringing high-speed internet to its citizens a national priority a decade ago, stayed in first place with an average connection speed of 24.6 Mbps; Hong Kong, with 15.7 Mbps, pulled ahead of Japan, which now matches Switzerland with an average connection speed of 14.9 Mbps. This is, of course, before the Hong Kong 'umbrella revolution' has played out.

On the world internet stage, the US's average 11.4Mbps speed put it in 14th place. Even much smaller counties like Lativa and Romania have better internet performance.

While AT&T and Cox are promising 1 Gigabit per second (Gbps) speeds to some metro areas before the end of 2014, truly high-speed broadband remains uncommon in the US.

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