Despite multi-billion-dollar investments in infrastructure, new mobile technologies and expertise, a huge disconnect remains between broadband capabilities across regions of the world, as underscored by the most recent State of the Internet report, which tracks data from Akamai's worldwide network.
And as many nations seek to create Gigabit Societies, the divide could only increase without accelerated deployment.
In the last quarter, the average global connection speed reached 7.0 Mbit/s, up 26% compared with the previous year and a 12% increase quarter-over-quarter, found Akamai. Although South Korea topped the charts, its speed dropped 0.7% from the prior quarter and 2.4% from the last quarter of 2015. But every other top-ranked country saw speed increases.
While most of the western world boasts 4 Mbit/s and 10 Mbit/s access speeds for 70% to 90% of the population, the same cannot be said for a number of countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia, the study finds. That said, several are seeing huge gains on 4 Mbit/s usage: Sudan, for example, grew 1,311% quarter-over-quarter to an adoption rate of 6% for 4 Mbit/s, according to Akamai Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: AKAM)
South Korea was the only country to surpass 25 Mbit/s, but Norway (23.6 Mbit/s), Sweden (22.8 Mbit/s), Hong Kong (21.9 Mbit/s) and Switzerland (21.2 Mbit/s) all crossed the 20 Mbit/s mark and appear well-positioned for faster speeds, the report says. The US came in 14th with an average broadband connection speed of 17.2 Mbit/s; that's up 5.5% from the prior quarter and 21% compared with the last quarter of 2015.
But not everywhere enjoyed the same speed successes. In the final three months of 2016, usage rates of 4 Mbit/s broadband were below 5% in both Venezuela and Algeria.
Some Nations See Broadband Adoption Drop
Despite an overall uptick in deployment of higher speed and usage of broadband, some parts of the world saw usage wane in the last quarter of 2015 versus the prior quarter and year-over-year. (Source: Akami State of the Internet)
Some areas are heavily investing in 4 Mbit/s broadband, building on an almost non-existent base. Although Pakistan's 4 Mbit/s use surged 99%, that increase only propelled the country to adoption levels of 5.7%, Akamai found.
Globally, 94 countries or regions saw quarterly growth in 4 Mbit/s adoption rates. However, research reported declines in 29 areas, including a 22% drop in Guatemala to an adoption rate of 15%, and a 0.1% decrease in both Ukraine (86%) and Romania (93%). This is a big improvement; it's more than a 53% drop -- from the prior quarter, when 62 nations or areas saw declines.
— Alison Diana, Editor, UBB2020. Follow us on Twitter @UBB2020 or @alisoncdiana.