news Australia has taken another step in the wrong direction down the global rankings of countries with the best broadband, with the latest report by technology giant Akamai showing average broadband speeds in Australia actually decreasing and the nation slipping behind neighbours such as New Zealand and even Thailand.
The ‘State of the Internet’ report is produced by online content delivery specialist Akamai Technologies every quarter. It is regarded as one of the benchmark standards by which countries and organisations measure broadband speeds globally. Akamai is in a good position to measure global Internet spees due to its extensive global content delivery network sitting at the heart of networks in each country.
In the company’s latest report — measuring broadband speeds over the past three months, Akamai noted that Australia had slipped down four spots on the global table in that quarter in terms of average broadband connection speeds.
Australia is now ranked 46th globally when it comes to average broadband speeds. This places the nation behind a number of other competing countries in the Asia-Pacific region — not only behind fibre-rich countries such as South Korea, Hong Kong and Japan, but also behind financial and trading hub Singapore, as well as Taiwan, Thailand and New Zealand.
Australia’s average broadband speed is listed as being 7.8Mbps.
The United States has an average broadband speed of 11.7Mbps, while the UK has comparable average speeds of 11.8Mbps. Canada sits at 11.2Mbps, while a cluster of European countries have opened up a lead on Australia. For example, Switzerland sits at 15.6Mbps, Sweden at 16.1Mbps, Norway at 14.3Mbps and the Netherlands at 15.2Mbps.
The key problem for Australia, according to Akamai, is that even though Australia’s average broadband speeds are increasing — up 4.8 percent on a quarter on quarter basis, and up 8 percent on a year on year basis — they are not keeping pace with the speed increases being seein in the rest of the world.
On other measures, Australia more or less held its position in the rankings — again, increasing its overall speeds but not keeping pace with the rest of the world enough to increase its overall ranking.
For example, Australia continues to be ranked 50th in the world globally by percentage of the country which has access to broadband speeds of 4Mbps or higher (in Australia, that’s 74 percent of the population). It is ranked 44th in the world by percentage of the population which has access to broadband speeds of 10Mbps or above (18 percent) and 49th in the world by the percentage of the population which has broadband speeds of 15Mbps or above (7.2 percent).
It’s not the first time Australia has dipped in the Akamai rankings — a similar situation occurred last quarter.
The figures have immediately attracted political notice.
“According to the latest @Akamai State of the Internet report, Oz has dropped 4 spots in the global rankings for average connection speeds,” wrote Minister Assisting on Communications, Michelle Rowland on Twitter today.
What we are seeing here is very clear.
On the one hand, Australia is indeed increasing its broadband speeds across the board. On most measures, as a country Australians are generally getting access to better broadband, and we’re seeing this in the stats.
However, balancing this fact appears to be two factors. Firstly, Australia’s broadband penetration is still increasing, so the added numbers of people joining the broadband revolution appears to be keeping our average speeds from jumping up too far.
In addition, Australia is just not deploying high enough speed infrastructure at a fast enough rate. The ten years which Australia’s politicians spent debating how and why Australia’s broadband infrastructure should be upgraded is finally catching up with us as a country. In that time, most other first-world countries incentivised their incumbent telcos to conduct major upgrades.
Australia took far too long to get on the bandwagon, due to factors such as the lack of bipartisanship on the issue and the reluctance of Telstra’s previous management under Sol Trujillo to play ball.
As a result, the rate at which Australia is increasing its broadband speeds is slower than the rate at which the rest of the world is increasing its broadband speeds. So even though things are slowly getting better in Australia as initiatives such as the National Broadband Network gain pace, we’re still slipping further behind compared to the rest of the world.
As many people have written continuously over the past few years, the only way to stop our trend downwards is to deploy Fibre to the Premises infrastructue, and price access to it at a level that will allow Australians to access higher speeds. We’re not going to leap in the rankings by only upgrading our copper networks and focusing on 25Mbps speeds. Most other first-world countries are 5-10 years ahead of Australia in doing that.