The global average internet connection rate as measured by Akamai is up slightly at 5.1 megabits per second. Seven European countries figure in the global top ten countries. The United Kingdom is not one of them, ranking 19 in the world, just ahead of the United States and Canada. So much for the promise of the United Kingdom government to be number one in Europe by 2015.
In 2010 the United Kingdom government declared its ambition to have “the best superfast broadband network in Europe”. At the time Lithuania could have claimed that title. In 2015 it would be Sweden.
In 2012 the government restated its target, saying it wanted to have the “fastest broadband of any major European country by 2015”. That meant in comparison to France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Sorry Sweden, no offence intended.
In February 2015, the communications regulator for the United Kingdom, published its latest European Broadband Scorecard. However, Ofcom did not actually provide a ranking of broadband connection speeds, “due to the lack of a suitable data source that covers the comparator countries”.
Conveniently, Ofcom rated the United Kingdom number one for practically every metric apart from broadband adoption, which ranked 3 out of the EU5 countries, behind Germany and France, or second to Germany by households. That was based on data from early 2014.
Download and upload speed data was conveniently presented as “N/A”.
In terms of fixed broadband connections with a “headline” or marketed rate of above 30Mbps, the United Kingdom ranked eleventh in Europe, behind Luxembourg, Ireland, Portugal, Denmark, Romania, Latvia, Sweden, Lithuania, Netherlands and Belgium.
While the Akamai State of the Internet Report is only one available measure, it has the advantage of being global, non-political and based on measured performance as relevant to online video.
According to the Akamai report for the second quarter of 2015, Sweden ranks 4 in the world, with an average connection speed of 16.1Mbps, coming behind South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan.
The average in the United Kingdom was 11.8Mbps, ranking it 19 in the world. In terms of the EU28, the United Kingdom ranked 8, behind Sweden, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Denmark, Romania and Belgium. It was still ahead of Germany, Spain, France and Italia, so in the view of the government it would be number one in Europe.
In terms of connections above 4Mbps, the United Kingdom ranked 34 in the world. 85% of connections from the United Kingdom were at 4Mbps or more, compared to 66% globally.
All European countries surveyed in the second quarter again achieved average connection speeds above 4Mbps, with 17 countries achieving average connection speeds above 10Mbps, including the United Kingdom. 7 out of 10 connections achieved speeds of 4Mbps or greater.
For connections averaging over 15Mbps, the United Kingdom ranked 17 in the world and 7 in Europe, with 23% of connections as seen by Akamai.
The United Kingdom ranked just above the United States in average connection speed. The average in the United States was 11.7Mbps and for Canada it wa 11.2Mbps. The District of Columbia had the highest connection speed in the United States, at 19.0Mbps. New York ranked 10 with 14.0Mbps.
Globally, 4.9% of internet addresses connecting to Akamai had average speeds of at least 25Mbps, a 7.5% increase over the previous quarter.
“We continued to see healthy increases in key connection speed metrics, particularly on a year-over-year basis,” said David Belson, editor of the report. “The improvement in connection speeds is vital as more content, not the least of which is video at increasingly higher levels of quality, is being delivered over the internet.”
Within the United Kingdom, there is significant variation in broadband download rates. Virgin Media delivers an average of 57Mbps, BT an average of 26Mbps, TalkTalk 17Mbps and Sky 14Mbps, according to Ookla speedtest.
The government claims that four out of five homes and businesses have access to services with greater than 24Mbps and that this will rise to 95% of the United Kingdom by 2017.
You do not have to be a statistician to recognise that this means that one in five homes or businesses in the United Kingdom still does not have “superfast” broadband. Many in rural regions struggle to get 4Mbps. That applies to 15% of the connections seen by Akamai. For some 4Mbps still seems a remote ambition.
Akamai’s State of the Internet Report is available for download from the State of the Internet web site.