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Australian peak mobile speed highest in APAC: Akamai

Due to a high percentage of the population having access to 4G LTE networks, Australia recorded the fastest peak mobile speed in APAC, at 147.6Mbps, but growth in broadband speeds remains slow.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Akamai has released its State of the Internet report for the first quarter of 2016, reporting that Australia recorded the fastest peak mobile internet speed for the Asia-Pacific region despite having the slowest-growing fixed-line speeds.

"A total of four countries -- Germany, Australia, Thailand, and Israel -- recorded average peak speeds above 100Mbps," the report noted.

"Within the individual continental regions, the following countries had the highest average peak mobile connection speeds: Africa, Angola, 86.8Mbps; Asia-Pacific, Australia, 147.6Mbps; Europe, Germany, 171.6Mbps; North America, Canada, 68.9Mbps; and South America, Peru, 70.5Mbps."

David Belson, editor of the State of the Internet report, told ZDNet that Australia's mobile speeds can be attributed to two factors: The high uptake of 4G long-term evolution (LTE) networks, and the way in which Akamai records mobile speeds.

"Australia had one of the stronger average connection speeds in the Asian region, and it definitely had the highest average peak connection speed. One of the things we caught in the report was ... in the cases where we have countries that have average peak connection speeds over 100Mbps, in most cases, those measurements are likely due to the use of proxies and gateways within the networks," Belson explained.

"So what that speed is more likely reflective of is the connection speed between Akamai and the proxy, and not Akamai and the end user. So with the peak measurement, in some cases, the numbers we have there are not necessarily reflective of the speeds the end user is experiencing.

"Having said that, I have looked at the Australian data, and my recollection is that there's strong LTE deployment down there, and I believe that there's even some initial LTE-Advanced deployment among one or more of the carriers. LTE-Advanced has a much higher bandwidth capability, so it's likely that the Australian providers are leveraging the advanced LTE capabilities to provide the higher signal connections."

Australia's 147.6Mbps peak mobile speed was followed in the region by 118.3Mbps in Thailand, 96Mbps in New Zealand, 89.3Mbps in Japan, 73.8Mbps in South Korea, 62.2Mbps in Singapore, and 53.5Mbps in Hong Kong. On average mobile speeds, Australia's 10.5Mbps came after South Korea's 13Mbps, but preceded Japan's 10Mbps, New Zealand's 9.7Mbps, Singapore's 6.7Mbps, Hong Kong's 5.8Mbps, and Thailand's 5.1Mbps.

The average page load time across mobile networks for Australia was, however, slower than most of its counterparts in the region, at 5,111ms. By comparison, it was 2,803ms in South Korea, 2,928ms in Singapore, 3,531ms in Japan, 3,726ms in Hong Kong, and 5,576ms in New Zealand.

However, Belson pointed out that this is not an "apples-to-apples measurement", as different pages are tested across each country's networks.

"We're not testing the exact same page across all of these countries and all of these connection types, so it may be the case that the content being downloaded in Australia over mobile is heavier and/or less optimised for local consumption than content in other countries," Belson said.

On the other hand, however, Australian fixed-line broadband again saw the least growth in the APAC region, with an average speed for the quarter of 8.8Mbps, up 15 percent year on year and ranked 48th globally, and a peak speed of 43.8Mbps, up 6.8 percent year on year and ranked 56th.

This made Australia the only country in APAC with a yearly growth of less than 10 percent, but while it is climbing slower than the other countries, it is still climbing.

"For the average connection speed ... we saw almost an 8 percent increase quarter on quarter and a 15 percent increase year over year for that metric, and then for the average peak connection speed, we saw a 12 percent increase quarter on quarter and a almost 7 percent increase year over year," Belson said.

"So it's definitely still moving in the right direction for both of the key metrics there."

Ahead of Australia on average speeds were South Korea, up 24 percent year on year to 29Mbps; Hong Kong, up 19 percent to 19.9Mbps; Japan, up 20 percent to 18.2Mbps; Singapore, up 29 percent to 16.5Mbps; Taiwan, up 46 percent to 14.8Mbps; Thailand, up 49 percent to 10.8Mbps; and New Zealand, up 25 percent to 10.5Mbps.

On peak fixed-line speeds, Australia lagged behind Singapore, which was up by 49 percent year on year to 146.9Mbps; Hong Kong, up 19 percent to 110.3Mbps; Indonesia, up a substantial 535 percent to 110.2Mbps; South Korea, up 32 percent to 103.6Mbps; Japan, up 21 percent to 84.6Mbps; Taiwan, up 20 percent to 83.1Mbps; Thailand, up 30 percent to 69.6Mbps; New Zealand, up 28 percent to 49.8Mbps; and Malaysia, up 46 percent to 46.3Mbps.

The report pointed out that Singapore could also soon strengthen its "sizeable lead" in peak broadband speeds thanks to the 10Gbps service launched by telecommunications provider Singtel in February.

At a rank of 60th in the world, 78 percent of the Australian population now have broadband speeds of above 4Mbps, compared to 91 percent in New Zealand, which is ranked 30th globally. Just 23 percent of Australians have speeds above 10Mbps, coming in at a global rank of 50th, and 10 percent have speeds of above 15Mbps, ranking 46th globally.

South Korea was the leader across the board for this category, with 97 percent of its population experiencing speeds above 4Mbps, 84 percent with speeds of above 10Mbps, and 69 percent with speeds over 15Mbps.

Australia also experienced a longer average load time across its broadband networks -- almost double that of others in the APAC region. Australia stood at 4,128ms, while Hong Kong was at 2,198ms, Japan at 2,146ms, New Zealand recorded 2,466ms, Singapore at 2,182ms, and South Korea at 2,140ms.

Across the Americas, the top two countries were the United States and Canada: The average broadband connection speed in the US was 15.3Mbps, with a peak speed of 67.8Mbps, while Canada recorded an average broadband speed of 14.3Mbps and a peak speed of 59.6Mbps.

The highest average broadband connection speed in the European region was Norway, with a 21.3Mbps average speed, followed by Sweden, on 20.6Mbps. In terms of peak speeds, Romania was highest, at 82.4Mbps, followed by Sweden, on 79.5Mbps.

In the Middle East and Africa, Israel had the highest average broadband speed, at 13.5Mbps, followed by the United Arab Emirates, with 8.8Mbps. The highest peak speed was recorded in Qatar, at 89.2Mbps, followed by Israel, with 65.8Mbps.

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