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UK has fastest mobile internet while US lags behind, says report

UK has fastest mobile internet while US lags behind, says report

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In a bad week for Britain in the news, the UK can at least take solace in its average mobile connection speeds, which — according to a new report from content delivery network Akamai — are the best in the world. The company's latest State of the Internet report claims that British mobile users were able to get average speeds of 27.9 Mbps when connecting to Akamai's HTTP/S platform in Q1 2016, beating most countries in Europe by an average of more than 10 Mbps, and the United States' average speed by more than 20 Mbps.

The US had an average connection speed of 5.1 Mbps for the first quarter of 2016, lower than Turkey, Kenya, and Paraguay, and on a par with Thailand. Many European countries, in particular, more than doubled the average US speed, including Slovakia with 13.3 Mbps, France with 11.5 Mbps, and Germany with 15.7 Mbps. Algeria, with the lowest average speed of countries included in the report, was only 2.9 Mbps behind the United States' average with 2.2 Mbps.

The United States' connection speed average was only just above Algeria's

Strangely though, given its terrific average mobile speeds in other tests and reports, Singapore also lagged way behind the United Kingdom in Akamai's report. The Asian country could only boast an average connection speed of 6.7 Mbps, although its average peak speed — the figure obtained when only the highest speeds from unique IPs are averaged — was a much more respectable 62.2 Mbps. Even that strays below countries not usually considered bastions of mobile connectivity, though, including Angola, Russia, and Peru.

Akamai's methodology ranks countries differently

Some of this is likely due to Akamai's methodology in putting together its report. In order to qualify for inclusion, Akamai had to log more than 25,000 unique IP addresses connecting to its HTML pages, JavaScript elements, software updates, and video streams from a certain country. The company says both average speeds and peak speeds can be altered by mobile networks' use of proxies, meaning that the speeds recorded will be between those proxies and Akamai's servers, rather than between the servers and the actual mobile devices themselves. Average speeds can be further influenced by parallel requests, the sharing of IPs among multiple users, and very small downloads, each of which could drag down the overall speed as bandwidth is chunked up between competing downloads.

But while the data may contradict other reports that put the UK closer to the middle of the speed table and countries like Singapore at the top, reports from both Akamai and the likes of OpenSignal are agreed that the United States is lagging behind in terms of mobile connection speeds. Despite Akamai's location in the Massachusetts, a potentially advantageous position that would put US mobile internet users geographically closer to its servers, the country could manage peak speeds of 19.8 Mbps — likely in part due to the comparatively higher costs of wireless data speed in the US compared to much of the world.


While mobile connections may not be advancing at the same rate worldwide, however, Akamai says its data shows regular internet connections continue to increase in speed, jumping 12 percent from Q4 2015 to 6.3 Mbps in Q1 2016, a year-on-year boost of 23 percent. Peak connection speed also rose to 34.7 Mbps, a 6.8 percent increase from the last quarter, and a 14 percent increase year-on-year. Mobile data traffic is also increasing steadily, rising from just over 3,500 petabytes per month in Q1 2015 to more than 5,500 petabytes per month in the same period this year.