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What happened to "Broadband", "High Broadband", and "4K Ready"?

If you are a long-time reader of the State of the Internet Report, you are like familiar with the terms “Broadband”, “High Broadband”, and “4K Ready” as they have historically been used in the report. (For specific definitions, see the blog post at http://akamai.me/sotimetrics) When you read the First Quarter, 2015 State of the Internet Report, you’ll see that we’ve phased out the usage of these terms in favor of speed-specific references.


In the First Quarter, 2008 State of the Internet Report, we included insight into “High Broadband”, “Broadband”, and “Narrowband” adoption, which were defined as the percentage of unique IP addresses connecting to Akamai at speeds above 5 Mbps, above 2 Mbps, and below 256 kbps respectively. As high speed connectivity grew around the world, we phased out insight into “Narrowband” adoption starting with the First Quarter, 2012 State of the Internet Report. We noted: “As connection speeds continue to increase globally, especially in countries with developing infrastructure, the number of connections that Akamai sees at these levels continues to decline. As such, we have decided to remove narrowband adoption statistics from the report going forward.” In addition, within that report, we also redefined the “Broadband” threshold to be 4 Mbps. As we explained, “This brings it into line with the definition used as part of the United States National Broadband Plan, as well as with target speeds in the European Union and China.” (The National Broadband Plan was published in 2010 by the United States FCC.) In conjunction with these changes, we also increased the “High Broadband” threshold to 10 Mbps.

In January 2015 the United States FCC noted that the 4 Mbps standard set in 2010 was dated and updated the broadband benchmark to 25 Mbps for downloads. As we noted in this quarter’s report, while we chose to adopt the FCC’s 4 Mbps definition of broadband within the State of the Internet Report in 2010, we won’t be doing so with this recent redefinition. We made this decision in part because we recognized that regularly redefining the terms use within the report could ultimately cause some confusion. In addition, because the jump from 4 Mbps to 25 Mbps was so significant, we felt that applying the new definition globally would ultimately cause “Broadband” adoption levels referenced in the report to drop significantly, detracting from the progress that has, in fact, been made over the last several years.

Now what?

Going forward, we will continue to use the term “broadband”, but in a more generic fashion, coupling it with specific speed thresholds. Within the First Quarter, 2015 State of the Internet Report we provide insight into adoption levels at:

  • 4 Mbps
  • 10 Mbps
  • 15 Mbps
  • 25 Mbps (global and United States only)

Adopting this nomenclature enables us to easily provide insight into additional speed thresholds in the future without having to worry about creating confusion around the way that specific terms have been used in the past.

If you have any questions about these new references, or anything else within the report, feel free to reach out to us at stateoftheinternet@akamai.com or on Twitter at @akamai_soti.