Dutch top Euro broadband table, but things are slowing

The Netherlands still has the best overall Internet speeds in Europe, but it’s Romania that can boast the fastest, according to new figures from Akamai (s AKAM).

According to the content delivery network’s latest State of the Internet report, which looked at broadband performance for the last quarter of 2011, internet users in the Netherlands had the highest average connection speed in Europe — at 8.2 Mbps. Meanwhile the Romanians ranked first in terms of peak speeds, with connections that topped 35 Mbps.

In total, Europe boasted 12 of the top 20 countries worldwide in terms of average speeds, with strong showings from Switzerland, Ireland, the Czech Republic and Belgium too — all of which puts the continent’s brightest broadband nations on a good competitive footing with Asia’s strongest: South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan.

Meanwhile, to prove that size isn’t everything, while most of the countries which ranked highly had populations in the low double digit millions — the Netherlands is home to around 16 million, Romania 19 million — the larger nations lagged somewhat. Both Germany (5.0 Mbps) and United Kingdom (4.9 Mbps) just scraped into the top 25 by average speed, while others like France, Spain and Turkey were still further behind.

Overall, it was a slightly disappointing quarter for the continent’s broadband connectivity, with many countries seeing average speeds decline for the first time in a while. It’s not entirely obvious why this drop-off occurred, but the report suggests it may have been caused by heavier congestion. In some countries it could be explained by further expansion into rural areas, too.

In general, though, this is in line with global trends, and the bigger picture is that the figures are moving upwards. Broadband connectivity across nearly the whole continent is above 75 percent, with Turkey — which has seen massive growth in broadband access recently — falling just short of the line at 72 percent.
So where should broadband addicts live?

As you can see from this chart, on a city-by-city level, Europe’s fastest connections were delivered to those living in the Romanian cities of Timisoara, Iasi and Bucharest, and the northern Swedish city of Umea — all of which scored more than 30Mbps on average.

Other cities in the top 10 were spread around the continent, including Zurich and Geneva (Switzerland), the Latvian capital Riga, the Czech second city of Brno, Valencia in Spain, and Acton, U.K.