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Third Quarter Situational Performance

In June 2013, Akamai announced the latest release of Ion. Ion is a solution that's designed to meet the unique challenges of optimizing the desktop and mobile web experiences. One feature of Ion is a capability known as Real User Monitoring (RUM). RUM takes performance measurements from real web users to provide developers with insights into performance across a multitude of devices and networks. Ideally, RUM is used in tandem with synthetic testing to generate a comprehensive picture of a user's web experience to help developers best calibrate their applications.

Real User Monitoring (RUM) methodologies

There are two key RUM measurement methodologies that allow data collection. First, is the navigation timing API, often referred to as navtiming. The Navtiming API allows JavaScript to collect information from the page load time component directly through the browser.

The second collection method is through a framework for web page timing, such as Web Episodes. Of the two methodologies, navtiming is preferred. Having said that, the navtiming methodology is not supported for every user. In particular, Apple's Safari browser on iOS and OS X did not support navtiming data collection in the third quarter of 2014. Apple seemed set to reverse course with beta releases of Safari for OS X and iOS 8 that supported the navtiming API; however, Apple walked this back with the release of iOS 8.1.1 stating, "The Navigation Timing API has been disabled only on iOS due to performance issues." It's likely the API will be reinstated once these performance kinks are worked out. Beyond Apple, Google added support for the API on Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and future versions, and Microsoft has supported it since version 9 of Internet Explorer.

Collection criteria

Akamai collected data using aforementioned RUM methodologies from end user requests on broadband and mobile connections throughout the third quarter of 2014. It's important to keep in mind that the following figures do not include measurements from Safari users on iOS or OS X operating systems, Android versions prior to 4.0, and Internet Explorer versions prior to 9.0.

The countries were selected based on the availability of measurements from users on networks identified as broadband as well as networks identified as mobile, and more than 90,000 measurements (roughly 1,000 a day) from mobile networks during the quarter.

Performance highlights

Average page load times were reviewed across a total of 58 countries and regions. Of those countries that were measured by Akamai, the Asia-Pacific region had many of the lowest values on mobile (i.e. the fastest page load times). In particular, three Asia-Pacific countries -- Japan, Vietnam and Hong Kong -- had average load times of less than two seconds. In contrast, these values were more than three times faster than the slowest measured countries, which included China, India and Brazil. Of those, Brazil had the highest average load time on mobile, clocking in at just less than ten seconds.

Of note is Vietnam's rise to the top of this metric. While Japan and Hong Kong frequently demonstrate strong broadband connectivity, Vietnam's inclusion was unexpected. Kazakhstan joined Vietnam in this regard. Both countries had the lowest average page load times for mobile connections. Interestingly, neither country had particularly high mobile connection speeds in the past. One reason for this rise could be a potential survey bias towards lighter content that is being presented and consumed on mobile devices in these countries.

Mobile penalty

The report also compared average broadband page load times to those observed on mobile connections. When compared, we can determine the relative mobile penalty. The mobile penalty indicates how much slower a page loads on an average mobile connection versus a broadband connection.

Surprisingly, of the 58 countries and regions that were included in the survey, 21 of them had a mobile penalty that was less than 1.0 times. For the layman this means average page load times were faster on mobile connections than broadband connections. Bangladesh and Kazakhstan had the lowest mobile penalty at 0.3 times. Conversely, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan had the highest mobile penalties -- hovering around 2 times. In other words, pages loaded twice as fast on a broadband connection than they did on a mobile connection.

Going forward, as more customers integrate the Real User Monitoring capabilities and more platforms offer support for the navigation timing API, the scope of the Situational Performance section of the report may be expanded. For the entire picture, head over to Akamai's State of the Internet: Q3 2014 Report to download the full report.