Year over year, the Internet keeps getting faster. The first quarter State of the Internet report from Akamai once again shows continuing yearly gains for both average and peak Internet connection speeds around the world.
Akamai reported that the global average connection speed in the first quarter hit 3.9 Mbps for a 24 percent year-over-year gain. Once again, South Korea topped the list, this time with an average connection speed of 23.6 Mbps, or a 145 percent year-over-year gain.
For the global average peak connection speed, which reports on the top end speeds seen by Akamai, there was also growth. Globally in the first quarter, the average peak connection speed was reported to be 21.2 Mbps for a 13 percent year-over-year gain. South Korea is also tops in this area, with an average peak of 68.5 Mbps for a 52 percent year-over-year improvement.
Internet connection speeds are important to track for a variety of reasons, including the ability to support high-bandwidth video transmission. Broadcasters are now starting to ramp up their Ultra HD video (also referred to as 4K) efforts, which require broadband speeds of approximately 15 Mbps. According to Akamai, in the first quarter of 2014, only 11 percent of global Internet connections hit the 15 Mbps threshold.
Looking specifically within the U.S., the picture improves somewhat for Ultra HD/4K readiness. Akamai found that 39 states had Ultra HD/4K readiness for 10 percent or more.
The need for increased bandwidth for Ultra HD is likely to help fuel expanded deployment of high broadband capabilities. Cisco's 2014 Visual Networking Index (VNI) report found that 4K video only represented 0.1 percent of IP video traffic in 2013. By 2018, however, Cisco believes UHD IP video will account for 11 percent of IP video traffic.
"While there continues to be room for improvement in high broadband adoption and average peak connection speeds in some areas of the world, the trends we're seeing remain very positive," said David Belson, author of the State of the Internet report. "Steady year-over-year growth suggests that a strong, global foundation is being built for the enjoyment of next generation content and services like 4K video and increasingly connected homes and offices, and that connectivity will continue to evolve to support the growing demands these emerging technologies will place on the Internet."
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.