Do you ever get frustrated by the speed of the internet at home or work? Everyone does at some point. Even thought it’s now much faster than the old days of dial-up we now demand a high speed internet connection at all times. But do you know what speed constitutes a good speed and where has the fastest? Read on.
Average internet speed
Internet speed is measured in megabits per second (Mbps) and the global average is 5.6 Mbps. This doesn’t really tell you much without context, so in order for internet speed to be considered fast it has to be greater than 10 Mbps. In order for the average to be so much lower than the definition of high speed it shows that there are a number of countries who fall well short of speedy connections.
It would be easy to make a sweeping generalisation and say that poorer or developing countries are most likely to have the poorest internet connection, but that isn’t necessarily the case. For instance Canada and the United States are the only two countries in the Americas with an internet speed that can be classified as fast. Many South American countries fall below the global average.
Also below the worldwide average is China (3.7 Mbps) which is surprising, especially with China being an emerging economy and superpower of business.
As for surprising countries who don’t have an average internet speed which is considered fast, there’s Australia (7.8 Mbps), France (8.2 Mbps), New Zealand (8.7 Mbps) and Italy (6.5 Mbps), so prosperity of nation and good infrastructure don’t necessarily equal great internet.
At the other end of the scale there are some surprises too. Let’s count down: in fifth place is the Netherlands (17 Mbps), fourth is Japan (17.4 Mbps), Norway are third (18.8 Mbps) and Sweden is in second place with (19.1 Mbps). But who tops the list? Which country has the fastest internet in the whole world? It’s South Korea. South Korean internet has an average connection speed of a massive 26.7 Mbps. Impressive.
UK and US internet
You might expect two of the biggest economies in the world to have the fastest internet or at least be among the best, but you’d be wrong. The US has an average connection speed of 12.6 Mbps leaving them in 14th spot and the UK is in 12th place with a slightly more respectable 13 Mbps.
The problem of averages
Statistically in a country with a high average connection speed you should have consistently great coverage, but remember an average is just that. If a country’s average is 20 Mbps it could mean that 50% of the country has 35 Mbps and 50% has 5 Mbps, so it doesn’t always give the full picture. The same can be true of those in a country with a poor average speed. Some people might have a really poor speed whereas some people will have a higher speed, although they will be in the minority.
Why are some countries so much faster than others?
In the case of South Korea it’s very simple – the government made it happen. During the 90s the potential of the internet was only just beginning to be understood by many countries, but it was South Korea that saw the massive potential it had for business purposes.
They invested heavily in it – a brave move that could have cost them dearly but luckily didn’t. Infrastructure was established, funding was made available and policies were written. They didn’t stop there though and continue to invest to this day. It’s not always about the cost of becoming the best, remaining the best also requires money.
You might well be asking yourself: “But why isn’t our internet as good? Why didn’t our government invest?” Sadly it’s not always that simple. 80% of people in South Korea live in well-populated urban areas and their own huge electronics industry contributed a great deal.
That being Sweden and Norway are large countries with relatively few people where many live in fairly isolated smaller communities and they managed to pull off high speed internet.
It’s all about foresight and vision and some countries lower down the list clearly have a lot to learn about internet providing.