Akamai: Global Average Connection Speed Dropped 14% In Q4 2011, Down 5.3% in U.S.

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According to Akamai‘s latest State of the Internet report, the average Internet connection speed around the world was 2.3 Mbps by the end of 2011. That’s down about 14% from the previous quarter. In the U.S., which ranks thirteenth in this report, the average connection speed in the last quarter of 2011 dropped 5.3% to 5.8 Mbps. In total, eight out of the top 10 countries in Akamai’s report saw their average connection speed decline compared to Q3 2011. Worldwide, speeds declined in 93 of the countries included in this report and only increased in 41 countries.

It’s not clear what is driving these numbers down. My first theory was that the growth in mobile Internet access could be responsible for this. Mobile connections, after all, tend to be slower than wired connections. Akamai, however, says that it has removed mobile network data from this data set. Akamai itself also doesn’t offer any explanation and there is nothing else in the report that would explain this slowdown either.

It’s worth noting, though, that the long-term trends look significantly better. Compared to a year ago, the average global connection speed increased by 19%. Year-over-year, most countries made significant strides. In the U.S. the average connection speed was up 14% compared to Q4 2010 and the average speed in South Korea, which was already leading the pack, increasing by another 28% to 17.5 Mbps.

Another good piece of news from this report is that the number of slow connections under 256 kbps continues to decline. Globally, only about 2.5% of all connections to Akamai’s network are below 256 kbps. That’s down 1.2% compared to last quarter and down 37% compared to the Q4 2010.

As usual, things still don’t look great for the U.S. No U.S. city ranked within Akamai’s top 50. Instead, the list is dominated by cities in South Korea and Japan. The Boston Metro area, with an average connection speed of 8.4 Mbps, ranked fifty-first.

You can download the full report, which also includes a detailed look at the current state of Internet security and the state of the mobile Internet, here.