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The State of the Internet: A Decade of Change

The State of the Internet Report is growing up - with this issue, it enters its tenth year of publication.  Over time, it has matured in many ways, including its length, design, and the content it includes.  Looking back at that first issue (all 17 pages of it), for the first quarter of 2008, we find that the report covered:

  • Security: Highlighting attacks detected by Akamai's 'darknet', as well as covering published insights into DDoS and Web site attacks occurring across the Internet.  Today, the State of the Internet/Security Report does an excellent job of covering those topics each quarter (although our attack detection surface now includes the entire Akamai platform).
  • Networks: This section covered outages, de-peering events and routing issues, and "significant new connectivity".  The latter covered the launch of two new submarine cables, while the former covered larger scale outages caused by the cut of such cables. Outages are still covered in the report today, although it seems that these wide-scale disruptions are now more likely to be caused by government action than by a rogue anchor. And "significant new connectivity" is now more likely to refer to the accelerating pace of gigabit-speed broadband deployments around the world.
  • Internet Penetration: This section included insight into the number of unique IPv4 addresses seen by Akamai, which is still covered in the report today. (Interesting, the count in that first report was just over 329 million - in the first quarter of 2017, it had grown to over 814 million.)  It also included insight into the number of unique IPv4 addresses per capita around the world - the highest at that time was Sweden, at 0.40.  This latter metric was short-lived within the report.
  • Geography: Insight into "high broadband", "broadband", and "narrowband" adoption and penetration around the world.  Within that issue of the report, "high broadband" was defined as 5 Mbps and above, "broadband" as 2 Mbps and above, and "narrowband" as connections slower than 256 kbps. The narrowband metric was excised from the report several years later, as adoption levels approached zero in the top countries, thanks to the increased adoption of higher speed broadband connections. To that end, "high broadband" and "broadband" were redefined several times over the years, generally in line with updated definitions from the United States Federal Communications Commission.  However, several years ago, we chose to abandon these generic designations, and instead be more specific about the associated speed thresholds.  Today, the State of the Internet Report covers broadband adoption above 4, 10, 15, and 25 Mbps.

Over the last nine years, the content in the report has also grown to include average and average peak connection speed data (which wasn't included in the first few issues), mobile traffic growth trends and mobile connection speeds, increased geographic coverage, and insight into the state of IPv4 exhaustion and growth of IPv6 adoption.  The State of the Internet program has also spawned associated data visualizations, mobile applications (iOS, Android), infographics, and e-reader friendly versions of the report.

The increased ubiquity of high speed broadband connections, thanks to more widespread availability and greater affordability, that has occurred over the last nine years, has also driven strong growth in both average and average peak connection speeds.  While the aggregation at a continent level shown in the graphs below hides the more granular improvements seen at an individual country level, the results are impressive nonetheless.

continents-avg.png

For the average connection speed metric, overall growth rates have been strong across most regions.  Asia had the highest starting point, thanks to countries/regions like South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan, but it also saw the lowest rate of growth across the report's nine-year tenure.

  • Africa: +361%
  • Asia: +177%
  • Oceania: +502%
  • Europe: +351%
  • N. America: +389%
  • S. America: +653%

continents-peak.png

For the average peak connection speed metric, the overall growth rates have been much stronger.  As this metric is more reflective of the speeds that connections are capable of (taking offered speed tiers and actual subscriptions into account), it highlights the aggressive progress that has been made around the world in improving the speed and availability of broadband connectivity.  South America had one of the lowest starting points, but exhibited the most significant growth over the last nine years, although North America has exhibited the highest average peak connection speed for the last five years or so.

  • Africa: +645%
  • Asia: +552%
  • Oceania: +945%
  • Europe: +843%
  • N. America: +821%
  • S. America: +1,360%

For more specific insight at a country (or U.S. state) level, download the First Quarter, 2017 State of the Internet / Connectivity Report, or create a custom map or graph using the associated data visualization tools.

1 Comment

Hi,I'm from China and I'd like to discuss about the internet speed of China with you. Over 80% users in China are using 20M or above broadband service. But in your report, China's internet speed is very low. I understand when Chinese people visit website outside China, the connection speed is limited. Do you think this is the main reason? Speed of China mainly reflect the speed when Chinese subscribers connect an oversea server?
Thank you.

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