Akamai: 17% Of U.S. Is ‘4K Ready’

South Korea Best Positioned To Deliver Sustained Streams of At Least 15 Mbps

With 4K streaming services starting to trickle into the market, Akamai added a “4K Readiness” metric to its first quarter State Of The Internet Report, finding that 17% of the U.S. is prepared to deliver those services via broadband – not quite enough to break into the global top 10.

In the report, Akamai noted that 4K/Ultra HD adaptive bit rate streams generally require 10 Mbps to 20 Mbps of sustained data, and, in the report, highlighted the percentage of connections to Akamai that generate speeds above 15 Mbps. Its 4K findings don’t factor in other “readiness” components, such as the availability of 4K-encoded content or 4K-capable TVs and media players. Akamai also acknowledged that the 15 Mbps threshold could change as more efficient codecs, such as HEVC or VP9, become more widespread.

Across the U.S., a total of 39  states had 4K readiness levels of 10% or more, with Massachusetts (27%) and Delaware (26%) having over a quarter of their connections to Akamai at speeds above 15 Mbps, according to Akamai. Hawaii (6.2%) and Kentucky (6.1%) had the lowest 4K readiness rates, as seen through Akamai’s speed-focused lens.

But when it comes to the broadband speed element of Akamai’s 4K-readiness equation, the U.S. was number 13 on its overall global rankings. Canada, at 13%, was ranked 17th.

Globally, 11% of connections were at speeds of 15 Mbps or more in the first quarter of 2014, Akamai noted.

Among individual countries, South Korea, at 60%, was tops, followed by Japan (32%), Hong Kong (26%), Switzerland (23%).  China (0.3%) and India (0.2%) were at the bottom list of 47 countries/regions that qualified for Akamai’s 4K-readiness metric.

Akamai’s new 4K-focused findings comes into play as Netflix starts to expand a still relatively small library of 4K content, and Comcast prepares to offer a 4K streaming app on new Samsung TVs and develops next-gen set-tops outfitted with HEVC decoding for native 4K signals. TV makers such as Sony and Samsung are also priming the 4K pump using media players and packages that ae pre-packed with titles in the Ultra HD format and allow users to add more titles via downloads, rather than streaming, 

Among other findings, Akamai said the global average connection speed climbed 1.8%, to 3.9 Mbps in the first quarter, and expects that average to surpass 4 Mbps in the following quarter. The average mobile connection speeds ranged from 1 Mbps in Argentina to 14.7 Mbps in South Korea.

As of the first quarter, 21% of globe had connections of 10 Mbps or more, up 9.4% versus the previous quarter, and up 65% from the year-ago period. About 77% of South Korea hit that 10-meg-plus benchmark, followed by Japan (54%), Switzerland (45%), Netherlands (44%), Hong Kong (43%), Latvia (37%), the United States (36%), Denmark (35%), Belgium (35%) and Czech Republic (34%).