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UK keeps trailing in broadband speeds

Britons are connected to the internet at an average speed of 4Mbps, compared with 14Mbps for South Koreans, according to Akamai's latest figures
Written by ZDNet Staff, Contributor

The average internet connection speed in the UK has hit 4Mbps, but still trails several other European countries, according to a new study by Akamai.

In its State of the Internet report, published on Monday, the web traffic company said the UK average in the third quarter saw a slight increase from the 3.9Mbps Akamai measured the quarter before. The British figure compares with a global average of 2Mbps, a rise from 1.8Mbps.

Romania topped the average internet speed rankings in Europe, with 7Mbps, followed by the Netherlands and Latvia, with 6.3 and 6Mbps respectively. Worldwide, the leader was South Korea, with 14Mbps (down from 17Mbps in the second quarter), while Hong Kong claimed second place with a 7.5 percent jump to 9.2Mbps.

"Taiwan's 24 percent quarterly growth was the most significant among the top 10 countries/regions, enabling it to achieve an average connection speed of 5Mbps," Akamai said in a statement.

No UK city featured in Akamai's global top 100 for average broadband connection speeds. The top European city was Constanta in Romania, with 8.8 Mbps, which placed it 48th worldwide. Taegu in South Korea knocked Masan, in the same country, off the leader spot with a detected average speed of 18.3Mbps.

"Cities in Asia overwhelmingly continued to dominate the top 100 list, once again accounting for three-quarters of the list, with 61 cities in Japan and 13 cities in South Korea and Hong Kong," the company said.

Cities in Asia overwhelmingly continued to dominate the top 100 list, once again accounting for three-quarters of the list.
– Akamai

According to Akamai, the majority of UK users — 85 percent — get speeds higher than 2Mbps. The total was a slight rise on the 83 percent reported in the previous quarter. Only 17 percent experience internet connections in excess of 5Mbps — no change on the previous quarter — while 0.9 percent get less than 256Kbps.

During the third quarter, internet penetration in the UK rose 12 percent compared with the same period in 2009, with 21.7 million unique IP addresses observed by the Akamai network. The increase over the second quarter was 8.1 percent.

Mobile broadband

The company also took a look at average mobile broadband speeds delivered by operators. In the UK, this was 2.2 Mbps. A provider in Russia took the top spot with average connections of nearly 6Mbps. Fifteen operators worldwide registered speeds higher than 10Mbps, and all but two of the 111 providers listed recorded 1Mbps or higher.

BT is in the midst of an ambitious rollout of fibre-based broadband, and earlier this month named 41 market towns that will receive fibre-based speeds of up to 40Mbps by the spring of 2012. In addition, Virgin Media has begun hooking British households up to its cable broadband network, which promises downloads of 100Mbps.

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