Akamai: U.S. Internet speeds increased 22% YoY; IPv6 adoption is a conundrum

Introduction & Overview:

Average Internet connection speeds in the U.S. rose by 22% in the past year and up 8.8% from the previous quarter. That was good enough to move the U.S. from 14th to 10th in the world rankings, according to Akamai’s quarterly State of the Internet report.

This quarter’s report includes data gathered from across the Akamai Intelligent Platform during the first quarter of 2017, covering internet connection speeds and broadband adoption metrics across both fixed and mobile networks, as well as trends seen in this data over time. In addition, the report includes insight into the state of IPv4 address exhaustion and IPv6 address adoption, Internet events and disruptions that occurred during the quarter, and observations from Akamai partner Ericsson regarding data and voice-traffic growth on mobile networks.  We present selected highlights of Akamai’s report in this blog post.  Slow IPv6 adoption is a conundrum in light of IPv4 address exhaustion.

Global Average Connection Speed = 7.2 Mbps

Global Average Peak Connection Speed = 44.6 Mbps

Connection Speeds & Broadband Adoption:

U.S. speeds averaged 18.7 megabits per second compared with 28.6 Mbps for global leader South Korea.  Other global leaders included Norway (23.5 Mbps), Sweden (22.5 Mbps), Hong Kong (21.9 Mbps) and Switzerland (21.7 Mbps).

The worldwide 10 Mbps, 15 Mbps, and 25 Mbps broadband adoption rates all saw robust quarter-over-quarter growth, increasing 9.0%, 11%, and 16% to adoption levels of 45%, 28%, and 12%, respectively. As it has for many quarters, South Korea continued to lead the world in all three broadband tiers, with adoption rates of 85%, 69%, and 40% respectively, after quarterly increases of 3.1%, 7.8%, and 16%.

Washington, D.C. once again had the U.S.’s  highest broadband adoption rate of 25 Mbps or more.

According to Broadband Reports, fiber optic Internet is only available to 1% of Santa Clara County residents (no Google Fiber of Verizon FioS here) and 0% of Santa Clara city residents (including this author) have residential fiber optic Internet service.  The two primary broadband carriers in the county are Comcast Xfinity and AT&T U-verse.  Both offer triple play service bundles.


In the first quarter of 2017, average mobile connection speeds (aggregated at a country/region level) ranged from a high of 26.0 Mbps in the United Kingdom to a low of 2.8 Mbps in Venezuela. Based on traffic data collected by Ericsson, the volume of mobile data traffic grew by nearly 12% over the previous quarter.

In the first quarter of 2017, 62 surveyed countries/regions around the world qualified for inclusion in the mobile section, up from 61 in the fourth quarter of 2016. Figure 38 shows that across these countries/regions, the United Kingdom once again had the fastest average mobile connection speed at 26.0 Mbps (down from 26.8 Mbps in the fourth quarter), with Germany again in second place at 24.1 Mbps. Venezuela again had the lowest average connection speed at 2.8 Mbps (down from 2.9 in the fourth quarter), followed by Namibia, with an average connection speed of 3.8 Mbps. Among the qualifying surveyed countries/regions, 32 in total had an average mobile connection speed at or exceeding the 10 Mbps broadband threshold (up from 30 in the previous quarter), while 60 achieved average speeds at or above the 4 Mbps broadband level (up from 58).

Within the individual continental regions, the following qualifying surveyed countries/regions had the highest average mobile connection speeds:

• Americas: United States, 10.7 Mbps

• Asia Pacific: Australia, 15.7 Mbps

• Europe: United Kingdom, 26.0 Mbps

• Middle East/Africa: Kenya, 13.7 Mbps

Continuing the trend of quarters past, the first quarter of 2017 saw rapid gains in mobile networks, from 4g and lte-a deployments to 5g developments. After many delays, 4g services finally launched in Egypt in the first quarter,51 while in New Zealand, the government revealed that 90% of the country’s population now had access to 4g mobile services, roughly two years ahead of schedule, due to aggressive rollouts by mobile providers Vodafone New Zealand and Spark.

According to Broadband Search, the average download speed for all wireless Internet providers in Santa Clara, CA (the center of Silicon Valley and this author’s home town for 47+ years)  is 4 Mbps and the maximum download speed available is 10 Mbps . The upload speed average via wireless Internet providers in Santa Clara is 4 Mbps,

IPv6 Adoption:

Insight into IPv6 adoption is based on data gathered from the Akamai Intelligent Platform.  Akamai is now finding that lack of IPv6 support in some consumer electronics (such as smart TVs and stand-alone digital media player devices) is presenting a barrier to growth in adoption, especially as the amount of content consumed on these devices grows over time. While not all of Akamai’s customers have chosen to implement IPv6 delivery yet, the data set used for this section includes traffic from a number of leading web properties and software providers, so we believe it is sufficiently representative. Note that in compiling the data for the figures in this section, a minimum of 90 million total requests to Akamai during the first quarter was required to qualify for inclusion.

European countries continued to lead IPv6 adoption, taking six of the top 10 spots. The four non-European countries among the top 10 included the U.S., Trinidad and Tobago, India, and Brazil. Belgium remained the leader with 38% of connections to Akamai via IPv6, 13% higher than second place Greece.

In the first quarter, despite a 19% quarterly drop in IPv6 adoption, Belgium maintained its substantial global lead, as 38% of its dual stack content requests to Akamai were made over IPv6. Belgium’s IPv6 percentage was 13 points higher than Greece, in which held second place. Unlike the fourth quarter of 2016, when 9 of the top 10 countries/regions recorded a rise in IPv6 adoption, in the first quarter of 2017, 8 of the 10 posted declines, though these changes may be explained in part by the cyclical seasonal effects noted above. Drops ranged from 4.8% in the United Kingdom and Trinidad and Tobago to 22% in Switzerland. India and Brazil were the two countries in the top 10 to see quarterly gains, as their adoption levels rose 21% and 29% respectively.

Once again, cable and wireless/mobile providers continued to drive the largest volumes of IPv6 requests, as many are leading the way for IPv6 adoption in their respective countries. In the first quarter of 2017, T-Mobile caught up to Verizon Wireless to share the lead in adoption rates, as both providers had 82% of their requests to Akamai being made over IPv6, up from 77% and 81% respectively in the fourth quarter. Sixteen of the top twenty providers had at least one in four requests for dual-stacked content to Akamai take place over IPv6—down from 17 providers in the fourth quarter. All but one of the top 20 had at least 15% of dual-stack content requests to Akamai occur over IPv6. First-quarter news announcements reflected the leadership role mobile carriers are continuing to play in IPv6 adoption. In Japan, three major mobile carriers—NTT Docomo, KDDI, and Softbank —revealed they would start full IPv6 services in 2017.

In the u.s., Verizon Wireless informed customers that beginning on June 30, 2017, it would cease to issue new IPv4 addresses. From that point forward, Verizon customers requesting new static public IP addresses will be issued IPv6 addresses only.