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UK outpaces rest of world on connection speeds and keeps up with broadband adoption rates

Akamai is a leader in content delivery network services, and as a by-product it gathers data on connection speeds – which the firm shared with Real Business.
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Global average connection speeds and broadband adoption rates have been increasing year on year. This is particularly important as customer expectations for watching video online rise, and helps to support the online streaming demands prompted by high-profile events – as was seen during the European football championships and Olympic games in Brazil.

While there is always room for improvement, it is worth remembering that global average connection speeds have more than doubled since the London games in 2012, from 2.8Mbps recorded during Q3 of that year to 6.3Mbps in Q1 2016, and broadband connections in most parts of the world are increasingly able to support the delivery of broadcast-quality video content online.

To put the UK into an international context, while the global average connection speed increased 12 per cent quarter over quarter to 6.3Mbps in Q1 2016, the UK sits in 19th place globally with average connection speeds of 14.9Mbps, a 7.8 per cent increase over the previous quarter and a strong 29 per cent increase year on year. Meanwhile, the global average peak connection speed, which back in Q3 2012 was at 15.9Mbps, grew to 34.7Mbps in Q1 2016. The UK is globally ranked in 28th place, and achieved a 61Mbps average peak connection speed in Q1 2016, an 18 per cent year on year increase, and up 7.4 per cent on the previous quarter.

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In Q3 2012, global 4Mbps broadband adoption rates were only 41 per cent while in Q1 2016 they came in at 73 per cent, up 5.4 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2015. The UK is ranked in 27th place with 91 per cent of connections above 4Mbps – a huge leap in the last four years from 62 per cent of connection speeds being above 4Mbps – and it also marks an annual rise of 7.5 per cent.

In terms of 10Mbps broadband, all 31 surveyed European countries posted yearly gains in the first quarter, and the UK was ranked 22 globally, with 53 per cent adoption, an annual rise of 30 per cent. Even greater gains have been made in the 15Mbps broadband adoption category, where the UK ranks 16th globally and has seen a yearly increase of 49 per cent.

In the first quarter of 2016, we observed a 0.2 per cent quarterly decrease in the number of unique IPv4 addresses connecting to the Akamai Intelligent Platform globally, declining to just over 808m. This compares with 683m in Q3 2012. The UK is positioned in sixth place globally, and in Q1 2016, the number of unique IPv4 addresses observed from the UK were 1.7 per cent lower than the previous quarter; however, year on year, this figure was up by 1.8 per cent. Note that these declines do not indicate lower Internet usage, but rather likely reflect the impact of growing usage.

Where IPv6 aukddresses are concerned, the UK does not currently figure in the ten countries/regions with the largest percentage of content requests made to Akamai over IPv6 in the first quarter. However, network provider Sky does feature in the top 20 global network providers, with 12 per cent of requests for dual-stack content made over IPv6.

When it comes to mobile connectivity the UK is right at the forefront, with the world’s fastest average mobile connection speed at 27.9Mbps in the first quarter of 2016. This compares with a low of 2.2Mbps in Algeria across the same period.

The UK’s average peak mobile connection speed is 66.5Mbps, which made it the sixth fastest in Europe for the quarter. With mobile phones and tablets becoming more commonplace as a user’s primary Internet access device, and with a growing amount of media being consumed on these devices, the strong mobile connection speeds in the UK support the continued growth of both of these trends within the country.

In February 2013, the UK government published a national broadband plan under the auspices of Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK). It laid out three programmes that were intended to deliver “superfast broadband and better mobile connection speeds to the nation.” Reviewing the improvements that the UK has seen in both fixed and mobile broadband connectivity over the last several years, we believe that the country is well on its way to achieving its goals, and to remaining a global Internet leader.

This article is part of our Real Business Broadband campaign, which seeks to provide a mouthpiece for business leaders to vocalise the broadband issues preventing their businesses from reaching full potential. We’d love to hear your take on the debate and where you think the UK needs to make drastic changes. Get in touch via email (shane.schutte@realbusiness.co.uk) or join in on the action using #rbBroadband.

Image: Shutterstock

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