Global average Internet speeds were relatively unchanged in the fourth quarter of 2014, rising just 0.7%, to 4.5 Mbps, according to Akamai’s latest State of the Internet Report.
The world fared better with respect to average peak connection speeds, which jumped 8.4%, to 29.9 Mbps, from the year-ago quarter, Akamai said.
South Korea held crown with an average connection speed of 22.2 Mbps, up 1.6% year-on-year, followed by Hong Kong (16.8 Mbps), Japan (15.2 Mbps), Sweden (14.6%).
U.S. speeds averaged 11.1 Mbps in the fourth quarter of 2014, up 15% from the year-ago quarter, putting it in 16th place worldwide. Canada averaged 10.7 Mbps, for a global ranking of 20th.
With respect to global average peak connection speeds, Hong Kong was tops, with 87.7 Mbps, up 29% year-on-year, ahead of Singapore (84 Mbps), South Korea (75.4 Mbps), and Japan (59 Mbps). The U.S. ranked 22th on the list, with an average peak connection speed of 49.4 Mbps, while Canada ranked 27th, with a 46.3 Mbps average peak connection speed.
Broadband speeds have again become a regulatory focus in the U.S. following the FCC’s vote in January to raise the definition of “broadband” from 4 Mbps down by 1 Mbps upstream, to 25 Mbps/3 Mbps.
Using 4 Mbps as the benchmark, broadband adoption was highest in Bulgaria (96%), edging out South Korea (95%), Switzerland (93%), Israel and Denmark (92%), and the Netherlands and Hong Kong (91%). On that same scale, Canada (85%) was ranked 18th, and the U.S. (74%) was ranked 40th.
The report also took another stab at global “4K readiness,” which Akamai defines as 15 Mbps or more using content that is encoded with H.264/MPEG4-AVC as the baseline. Akamai acknowledges that the bit rate threshold for 4K streaming will come down with the help of more efficient codecs such as HEVC and VP9.
About 12% of unique IP addresses connecting to Akamai globally in Q4 2014 had an average connection speed of 15 Mbps or more, up just 0.6% from Q3. Roughly 18% of U.S. connections were considered 4K-ready in Q4, up 39% from a year ago, compared to 16% in Canada, up 78%.
When viewed through Akamai’s lens, Delaware was the most 4K-ready state, with 38% of connections providing 15 Mbps or more, followed by Rhode Island and Massachusetts (30% each), Virginia (28%), Washington, D.C., and Washington state (27% each).