With average download speeds of 22.37 Mbps, the UK has the world’s 34th fastest broadband.
That puts us behind countries like Malaysia and Madagascar, as well as most of the EU.
That’s according to an annual speed league tables compiled using data gathered by M-Lab, an open source project that strives to “measure the internet, save the data, and make it universally acceptable and useful.” M-Lab collected the data from 276 million speed tests conducted around the world throughout 2018.
Taiwan had the fastest broadband, with average download speeds of 85.02 Mbps, a more than 200% improvement on its 2017 speeds. It was followed by Singapore, with speeds of 70.56 Mbps.
Jersey, which has seen a roll out of full fibre connections to every home on the island, comes in third, with average download speeds of 67.46 Mbps.
In Britain however, only 7% of premises can access full fibre connections. However, it’s important to draw a distinction between average speeds and high-speed broadband availability. Measured speeds can lag well behind the availability of ultrafast connections if customers don’t subscribe to them.
In the UK, while 96% of premises can access “superfast” (downloads speeds over 24 Mbps) connections and nearly 60% can access “ultrafast” (100+ Mbps) networks, take-up is lower, with customers dissuaded by cost or the presumed difficulty of switching to fibre or cable packages. Reportedly, a third of customers are using slower ADSL broadband connections although faster networks are available for their property.
Speed tests are also in imperfect measure of speed, impacted by poor home wiring and Wi-Fi performance and traffic on the local network. People are also only inclined to run a speed test when they think their internet is lagging.
That might be why cable and M-Lab’s results differ from those found by other sources. Ofcom registered an average speed of 54.2 Mbps in November 2018.
Ookla, which operates speedtest.net, found higher speeds—61.75Mbps for fixed line connections—but ranked the UK even further down the global league tables, at 42nd.
Meanwhile, internet speeds, measured by M-Lab, were slowest in war-torn Yemen (0.38 Mbps), Timor-Leste (0.45 Mbps), and Equatorial Guinea (0.51 Mbps). Analysts expresses concerns that while average global speeds have increased, the gulf between the fastest and slowest countries has widened.
Europe and parts of Asia are dominating the leader board once again thanks to largely excellent infrastructure. In all cases, those countries ranking highest are those with a strong focus on FTTP networks, with those countries dawdling too much on FTTC and ADSL solutions slipping further down year on year.”