Broadband Use, Quality Improves Globally

OXFORD — A new study from Oxford University shows that more countries are able to access the Internet because of improved quality and availability of broadband.

The study from Oxford’s Said Business School examined broadband access across 72 countries and 239 cities and found that because of investments from around the world, the quality of broadband has improved by 50 percent in just the last three years. That is a nine percent increase compared to countries that were accessing broadband in 2008.

The average global download speed also has shot up from 3.27Mbps (megabits per second) in 2008 to 5.92Mbps in 2010. The average upload speed has jumped from 794Kbps (kilobits per second) in 2008 to 1.77Mbps this year.

As a result of higher speeds and greater access, 48 countries, that’s 66 percent, now meet the necessary requirements to use the major services now available online.

These services include social networking, low-definition video streaming, basic video conferencing, small file sharing, email and web browsing.

Even further, 14 countries and 38 cities are now prepped for what the study dubbed the Internet "applications of tomorrow."

Among the individual countries examined in the study, South Korea topped the charts with the highest broadband quality in the world. South Koreans enjoy an average download speed of 33.5Mbps, a gain of 55 percent from last year, and an average upload speed of 17Mbps, a leap of 430 percent from 2009. As this point, the country also is the beneficiary of 100 percent broadband penetration.

Hong Kong, Japan, and Iceland were also among the countries with the best broadband access. The United States ranked 15th, tying with Canada, France and Latvia. The average download speed in the U.S. is now 9.6Mbps, while the upload speed is resting at around 2.2Mbps.

Mobile broadband has also improved, according to the study, and in some cases now offers an experience comparable to that of fixed-line broadband. The average mobile download speed is now 936Kbps, up 35 percent from 2009, while upload speeds now hit around 277Kbps, a gain of more than 100 percent from last year. Throughout the world, Sweden, Denmark, the U.S., and Spain are the leaders in mobile broadband quality.