State of the Internet: The broadband future is faster, but still unevenly distributed

We may not be a gigabit nation yet when it comes to broadband, but the latest data from Akamai (s akam) shows that the the number of broadband connections over 10 Mbps — what Akamai dubs “high broadband” has grown by 73 percent from the third quarter of 2011 to the third quarter of 2012. The country has also see a 20 percent overall increase in average speed  to 7.2 Mbps over the past year, but the number of people who have adopted broadband (measured at anything above 4 Mbps) was 62 percent, which puts the U.S. at No. 12 in the worldwide rankings when it comes to adoption and No. 9 when it comes to average speeds.
The rest of the world is faring well, too, in terms of boosting speeds. The fastest countries in the world when measured by average speeds are South Korea and Japan. And as you can see from the chart below, South Korea has managed to get over half of its population buying speeds of 10 Mbps or more. The U.S. is more in line with the global average, but has seen a significant boost in “high” broadband adoption.
What the latest version of the Akamai report shows is how much difference there can be in broadband quality even within countries. It also illustrates the difference in speeds between wireline and mobile connection (only seven mobile carriers even provide Akamai’s 4 Mbps definition of broadband). As our own country attempts to build out gigabit cities near universities — or in at least one city in every state — it’s worth pointing out that the future is clearly here in terms of faster broadband, but it’s unevenly distributed among the types of broadband and within countries.
As a side note, Google(s goog) Fiber, the gigabit network built in Kansas City (both in Missouri and Kansas sides of town), was perhaps the biggest broadband story of 2012 but doesn’t have a direct impact yet on Akamai’s third quarter numbers in terms of speeds. The first Google Fiber deployment occurred during the fourth quarter, with the launch happening in the third. Yet Kansas saw both a boost in broadband adoption as well as higher average connection speeds that grew to 5.5 Mbps.
Some more fun facts about worldwide connectivity from the report:

  • China is still the No. 1 origination country for attack traffic from a quarter-to-quarter basis. It saw a marked increase in the percentage of attack traffic, such as hacking –from 16 percent in the second quarter to 33 percent in the third. In contrast the U.S., which holds the No. 2 spot for origination of attacks saw its attack traffic rise from 12 percent in the second quarter to 13 percent in the third. See other origination countries below:
  • SOTIQ3security

  • Hong Kong’s 54.1 Mbps average peak connection speed (an average of the highest speeds in the country and inclusive of “speed boosting technologies”) in the third quarter marks the first time that an average peak connection speed has exceeded 50 Mbps.
  • The average peak connection speed in India has increased nearly 140 percent since the third quarter of 2007, while China’s has increased nearly 250 percent over the same period. In comparison, the U.S. has seen its average peak connection speeds increase by 200 percent during that time frame.
  • In the mobile world, only seven providers had average connection speeds in the “broadband” (greater than 4 Mbps) range. None of them were in the U.S. Akamai doesn’t name carriers, only listing them by country.
  • An additional 68 mobile providers had average connection speeds greater than 1 Mbps in the third quarter.
  • Average speeds of mobile connections measured from three U.S. providers topped out 2.7 Mbps, and the peaks topped 9.8 Mbps at one provider.