The Internet has become an essential element of modern life, with millions of people online everyday for work, study, and play. Like many aspects of modernity, however, Internet access is highly dependent on geographic location, socio-economic levels, and demographic placement. Broadband speeds around the world are far from equal, as the gap between different countries and regions becomes the most obvious example of the global digital divide.
According to the 2014 Q2 State of the Internet report from Akamai, the global average connection speed increased 21 percent over the quarter to 4.6 Mbps, with the peak speed increasing 20 percent to 25.4 Mbps. However, while all but one of 139 qualifying countries/regions experienced a rise in their average peak speed, the divide between fast and slow nations continues to widen. Asia continues to lead the way in terms of Internet speeds, with South Korea topping the list with an average speed of 24.6 Mbps and a peak speed of 72.1 Mbps.
Hong Kong came in second with an average speed of 15.7 Mbps and the highest peak speed of 73.9 Mbps. Japan and Switzerland both had an average speed of 14.9 Mbps, with Japan enjoying a higher peak speed of 61.5 Mbps compared to 53.1 Mbps for Switzerland. The slowest country surveyed was Bolivia with an average speed of 1.1 Mbps, just in front of other South American nations Paraguay and Venezuela. While South Africa had the lowest average in Africa at 3.0 Mbps, it's important to note that reliable data is unavailable for many African nations.
Australia scored speeds of 7.1 Mbps and 36.8 Mbps respectively, just in front of New Zealand with 6.8 Mbps and 31.8 Mbps. This puts both nations behind over 15 European countries, South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, the United States, and Canada. The Akamai report also analysed broadband adoption rates, mobile connectivity, and security attack traffic around the world, providing a valuable insight into the state of the Internet in 2014.
With more people going online away from home or work, mobile connectivity has become an increasingly important aspect of the global Internet. While South Korea still leads the way with average mobile speeds of 15.2 Mbps, mobile connectivity speeds in Europe and North America were notably faster than the rest of Asia. Slovakia, Denmark, Ukraine, Sweden, Russia, and Canada all had average speeds faster than Japan, the second fastest nation in the Asian region. While average mobile speeds in Australia and New Zealand were just 4.9 Mbps and 3.2 Mbps respectively, Australia had the highest peak connection speed in the world at 108 Mbps.
In a detailed look at the origin point of Internet attacks, 65 percent of observed attack traffic was concentrated in the Asia Pacific region, with 43 percent coming from China alone. The only significant attack traffic not originating from Asia was from the United States, which accounted for 13 percent of the global volume. Interestingly, the concentration of attack traffic from the Asia Pacific region was more than four times greater than the volume from Europe.