Akamai’s state of the internet: the world grows as the U.S. falls behind

In looking at the way that the internet is performing across the world in 2013, it’s very clear that many countries are hitting their stride and growing in terms of their adoption of broadband. However, that growth comes at a cost: the progression of the internet is signaling the beginning of the end of United States’ place in the top tiers of performance, according to Akamai’s latest State of the Internet report for the second quarter of 2013.

AkamaiQ22013IPv4Overall, the number of unique IPv4 addresses has swollen to over 752 million — approximately 18 million more than the first quarter to create a 2 percent increase overall quarter-over-quarter. While it sounds like a small number in the grand scheme of things, Akamai noted that the number of unique IPv4 addresses is slowly dwindling. As major gains continue in developing nations like Tanzania and Mozambique, the IPv4 address pool is quickly becoming exhausted. While the size of the web is getting bigger, internet connections are also becoming faster. The global average connection speed saw a 5.2 percent increase quarter-over-quarter to 3.3 Mbps. Even more important is the number of countries that have a connection speed of less than 1 Mpbs, which has dwindled to just 11 from 18 in the fourth quarter of 2012. Overall, this indicates that developing companies are increasing their average internet connection speeds, and already-developed nations are improving their infrastructure. The Global average peak connection speed increased just 0.1 percent to 18.9 Mbps, but more countries than ever are passing the 10 Mbps connection speed mark.


However, the increased sophistication of global internet networks has lead to the U.S. becoming outmoded in the top tiers of connectivity. While the U.S. remains eighth in average connection speeds, it no longer registers in the top 10 for peak connection speeds (which it has been left out of all year) and now rests at 10th in overall high broadband speeds. America is lodged in a flat period for broadband growth while smaller, developing countries to reach better connectivity. It’s high time to get gigabit networks deployed, or risk being left in the dust.

It’s important to note that IPv6 is gaining ground: while the 3.8% growth rate in the second quarter was uncharacteristically low compared to the four years Akamai has tracked it, 7,200 systems are now in the IPv6 routing table. But there’s a lot of work left to be done: As it stands now, the number of unique addresses correlates to roughly 1 billion users of the web in total. 

The State of the Internet report is Akamai’s quarterly analysis of internet connection and behaviors through data gathered by the company’s globally distributed server system, the Intelligent Platform. The report covers desktop and mobile internet connections in up to 175 countries all over the world.