AUSTRALIA continued to slide down the list of speediest internet-connected countries last year, with few internet users enjoying downloads fast enough to stream high-definition movies.
The Akamai Technologies State of the Internet report, released overnight, puts Australia in 40th place for average net connection speeds, down from 39th spot in the second quarter of 2012, and beaten by five countries in the region.
Rodney Gedda, senior analyst for telecommunications firm, Telsyte told news.com.au that the drop could have been the result of our regional neighbours getting broadband at a faster rate than we are.
“It’s probably not such a bad drop considering out speeds are getting slower, though there was a decline in average megabytes per second from 4.9 to 4.3,” Mr Gedda said.
South Korea again claimed the top spot for average internet connection speeds, while Hong Kong beat the world for top average peak speed.
In a small pre-Australia Day win, however, Australia claimed internet speed superiority over Oceania rival New Zealand, which languished in 46th place.
Year-on-year Australia also experienced a 19 per cent increase in average connection speeds.
The study, which looked at more than 8.8 million Australian internet connections, found just 4.1 per cent of Aussie internet users were downloading content at speeds greater than 10 megabits per second – the speed required to stream 720p high-definition movies.
Only 38 per cent of Australians were connected at speeds higher than 4Mbps.
By comparison, 86 per cent of net-connected South Koreans enjoyed speeds over 4Mbps and more than half were connected at speeds higher than 10Mbps.
Australia’s average peak internet connection speed of 22.8Mbps won the country 34th place, putting it sixth in the Asia Pacific region but well below the 54.1Mbps of world leader Hong Kong where users could download high-definition feature films in minutes rather than hours.
It was also enough to beat New Zealand, which registered an average connection speed of 3.9Mbps and average peak of 17.8Mbps.
It’s not all bad, though.
“It doesn’t mean we’re going to be left in the lurch,” Mr Gedda said.
“We’ve still got copper networks and ISPs are making advances in ADSL technology, and people have the option of upgrading from standard ADSL to ADSL2+.”
The analyst said that Australia’s land-mass is also overlooked when it comes to discussing the country’s comparative internet speeds.
“We are fortunate in the sense that we have a national broadband program but unfortunate in the sense we have such a large landmass to cover, it is often overlooked in broadband arguments,” he said,
“There’s a lot of debate about comparing it to Korea and Singapore and Japan and it’s not really a fair argument because those countries are a lot smaller and very densely populated.”
Earlier this month, NBN Co announced the company had completed or commenced connections at more than 758,000 premises by the end of 2012 and chief executive Mike Quigley said another 286,000 premises were expected to be “passed” by June this year.
The National Broadband Network promises to deliver download speeds of up to 100Mbps.
A spokesperson for Minister Stephen Conroy told News.com.au that the Gillard Government “understands the importance of improving Australia’s download speeds, both for now and the future. This is the essential infrastructure for the 21st century.
“By connecting 93 per cent of Australian homes and businesses to an optic fibre network, the National Broadband Network will deliver speeds that are equal to the best in the world,” the spokesperson said.
“The Coalition spent eleven years in government doing nothing on broadband and Mr Abbott is promising more of the same.
“On 29 October he wrote in the Australian Financial Review that he would still leave the delivery of broadband to the competitive market. That market has failed us, which is why the Government is making the investment in the National Broadband Network that will deliver reliable high speed broadband to all Australians at affordable prices, so that we can compete effectively with the rest of the world.”
GLOBAL AVERAGE INTERNET SPEEDS
1. South Korea: 14.7 Mbps
2. Japan: 10.5 Mbps
3. Hong Kong: 9 Mbps
4. Switzerland: 8.7 Mbps
5. Latvia: 8.7 Mbps
6. Netherlands: 8.5 Mbps
7. Czech Republic: 7.6 Mbps
8. Denmark: 7.2Mbps
9. United States: 7.2 Mbps
10. Finland: 6.8 Mbps
40. Australia: 4.3 Mbps
46. New Zealand: 3.9 Mbps
… and the country with the slowest average connection speeds was Libya, recording a web speed of 0.05 megabytes per second.