Year after year, the Internet continues to grow, and connection speeds continue to get faster.
Just out, Akamai's fourth-quarter 2012 State of the Internet (SOTI) report shows significant speed gains around the world as broadband connectivity accelerates.
In the fourth quarter of 2012, Akamai reported the global average connection speed at 2.9 Mbps, a twenty-three percent year-over-year gain. Global average peak connection speeds rose by thirty-five percent, to 16.6 Mbps.
David Belson, author of the SOTI report, told Enterprise Networking Planet that several factors drive the global growth of Internet speeds.
"One is the continued deployment of high-speed Internet connectivity around the world, as countries execute on their national broadband plans," Belson said. "Another is competitive pressure – in those areas with multiple providers, there can be a limited arms race of speed increases, where providers may raise the speeds associated with their subscriber packages as a means of retention and to remain competitive."
The fourth-quarter SOTI speed gains follow the third quarter report, which showed some sequential quarter-to-quarter declines. Belson said that quarterly fluctuations aren’t unexpected.
"It appears that in Q3, there were a few larger countries that saw declines, while in Q4, they saw increases," Belson said. "In addition, several larger countries saw much more significant increases in Q4 than in Q3, which likely helped to pull the quarterly change back to the positive side."
In the U.S., the average connection speed hit 7.4 Mbps during the fourth quarter of 2012, which is a twenty-eight percent year-over-year gain. Average peak connection speed in the U.S hit 31.5 Mbps in the fourth quarter, for a twenty-five percent year-over-year gain.
While U.S. broadband speed gains were positive, America still trails other nations for both peak and average connection speeds. The U.S placed 13th. Hong Kong ranks at number one, with an average peak connection speed of 57.5 Mbps. The U.S ranks a bit better when it comes to average measured connection speed, coming in 8th. South Korea holds the top spot globally, with an average speed of 14.0 Mbps.
Looking inside the U.S, the state of Vermont had the highest average measured connection speed, 10.8 Mbps, during the fourth quarter. When it comes to average peak connection speed, Vermont falls to second, at 40.4 Mbps, behind the District of Columbia's 43.1 Mbps.
The state of California, home to Silicon Valley and its myriad tech giants, ranks 16th in the nation, with an average connection speed of 8.1 Mbps. California ranks 13th for average peak connection speed, at 34.8 Mbps.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.