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Akamai report raises questions over UK broadband stats

Akamai’s latest 'State of the internet' report claims UK average broadband speeds may not be rising as fast as hoped or claimed

Average broadband speeds in the UK continued to rise during the last three months of 2015, but hovered at a paltry 13.9Mbps, far below any reasonable definition of superfast broadband.

The figures, produced by content delivery networking services supplier Akamai in the latest edition of its quarterly State of the internet report, stand in stark contrast to figures produced by regulator Ofcom, which suggest the average speed is more like 28Mbps.

Akamai’s latest statistics concur with a September 2015 report commissioned by BT and produced by Analysys Mason, which placed the UK top out of the five largest European economies – France, Germany, Italy and Spain – in terms of average speeds.

However, its data also put the UK far behind other European states, notably Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Switzerland. Top of the pile was Sweden, where users received an average speed of 19.1Mbps.

UK citizens received an average peak connection speed of 56.8Mbps, behind Belgium, Hungary, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland, with Romania the fastest at 73.6Mbps.

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Akamai ranked the UK 10th in Europe for adoption of broadband services with speeds of over 10Mbps, but said only half of observed connections were faster than that, and just 32% of connections were above 15Mbps.

When it came to mobile broadband, 89% of mobile UK connections were above 4Mbps, with a peak observed at 73Mbps, and a quarterly average of 26.8Mbps, reinforcing the case for mobile broadband being of substantially higher quality than fixed broadband in many situations. Akamai claimed this meant the UK now received the fastest average mobile broadband service in the world.

Worldwide, average connection speeds rose by 23% on a steady upward curve, as more and more people around the world gained access to the internet.

Report editor David Belson said the steady year-on-year growth was particularly important as consumer expectations continued to rise. He predicted further improvements in 2016 as events such as the Rio Olympics prompt more interest in video streaming, which already accounts for much of the world’s data consumption.

“The progress we’re seeing across our key metrics shows that, while there’s still work to be done, more parts of the world are increasingly able to support the delivery of broadcast-quality video content online,” said Belson.

The global average speed now stands at 5.6Mbps, up by 23% year-on-year, with average peak speeds reaching 32.5Mbps. South Korea has the fastest average broadband in the world, at 26.7Mbps.

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