Asian Cities Dominate Fast Broadband

High-speed broadband has become a phenomenon of densely-populated Asian cities, which now account for 74 of the top 100 global cities offering fast connections according to Akamai's latest State of the Internet report.

Artwork: Chip Taylor
According to the company's statistics for best average connection speeds, Japan leads the way with an astonishing 62 cities in the top 100, ahead of South Korea and Hong Kong on 12, Europe on 15 and the U.S. and Canada on 10.

The top 10 for speed are all in South Korea, however, which benefits from intense coverage around capital city Seoul, where average speeds range from 15Mbit/s to 21Mbit/s, with Japanese users hitting between 8.5Mbit/s and 12.2Mbit/s.

The best European city was Constanta in Romania with an average of 8.5Mbit/s while the best U.S. city was Monterey Park, California, which managed 6.9Mbit/s.

These are average connection speeds, but looking at the extremes also gives further insight. Again, South Korea leads the way with some users reaching 38Mbit/s connections, ahead of Hong Kong (32Mbit/s), Japan (28Mbit/s), and Romania (27 Mbit/s). The US languishes, in relative terms at least, with peak rates of only 16Mbit/s.

In terms of U.S. cities, California is the place to be -- seven of the best connections speeds were recorded there. At the other end of the scale, the state with the highest number of connections above 2Mbit/s was Delaware, where 98 percent of connections reached this level.

Akamai also measured global 'attack traffic', which showed Russia falling to third place as an originator on 10 percent, behind the US and China which head the list on 11 percent each. These three counties swap top placing in all such reports.

Graphic: Diego Aguirre
As to the new category of mobile attacks, only three countries, Italy, Brazil, and Chile, accounted for more than half of such traffic. It could be early days to start judging this class of attack traffic, however.

Working out what all this tell us should be straightforward. Investment in broadband is increasing connection speeds, which is in turn driving uptake of applications which require more bandwidth. It has been so since the dawn of video and social networking five years ago.

At the same time, densely-populated cities do very well, while market-driven economies with socially-stratified and rural populations do less well in relative terms and are 'falling behind' in a numbers sense at least. Whether the gap matters is a matter for debate but infrastructure companies will always claim it does because they stand to gain.

Asia appears to do supremely well on the list of cities with high average connections speeds, but huge tracts of the continent barely register at all, notably mainland China, and poorer Asian countries such as Vietnam and Thailand. Depending on how you view such reports, this could be the real story.

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