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Akamai: Global broadband connection speeds increase

October 16, 2013

Akamai, a provider of cloud services for delivering, optimising and securing online content and business applications, has released its Second Quarter, 2013 State of the Internet Report. Based on data gathered from the Akamai Intelligent Platform, the report provides insights into key global statistics such as network connectivity and connection speeds, attack traffic, and broadband adoption and availability.

European Highlights from Akamai’s Second Quarter, 2013 State of the Internet Report:

Average and Peak Connection Speeds: impressive year-over-year gains observed in Europe

The global average connection speed increased in the second quarter of 2013, growing 5.2 per cent quarter-over-quarter to 3.3 Mbps. Quarter-over-quarter growth was seen in nine of the top 10 countries/regions, with the largest increases being observed among European countries; the UK, Belgium, Ireland, Spain, France and Italy all demonstrated more than 10 per cent growth in average connection speed quarter-over-quarter.

With a strong 9.1 per cent increase over the prior quarter, Switzerland (ranked #3 globally) remained the European country with the highest average connection speed at 11 Mbps. This quarter the Netherlands (10.1 Mbps) joined Switzerland as the only other European country to achieve an average connection speed above the 10 Mbps ‘high broadband’ threshold, thanks to a 6.2 per cent quarter-over-quarter increase.

Examining year-over-year changes, the UK achieved the largest gain at 48 per cent (to 8.4 Mbps) while Sweden followed close behind with 44 per cent yearly growth (to 8.4 Mbps). Three additional countries achieved significant year-on-year increases in excess of 30 per cent: Czech Republic (up 36 per cent to 9.8 Mbps); Norway (up 34 per cent to 7.4 Mbps); and Switzerland (up 31 per cent). A further 11 countries grew more than 20 per cent from the second quarter of 2012: Belgium and Ireland (up 29 per cent); Austria (up 28 per cent); the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and Spain (up 27 per cent); Finland (up 24 per cent); Italy and France (up 23 per cent); and Denmark (up 21 per cent).

At 47.5 Mbps, Romania’s second quarter average peak connection speed tops the European leader board, followed by Switzerland (41.4 Mbps), Belgium (39.9 Mbps), the Netherlands (38.8 Mbps) and the UK (37.1 Mbps). Year-over-year changes to European average peak connection speeds demonstrate further impressive increases: the UK achieved a 52 per cent growth while another three countries grew by more than 40 per cent over the same period (Norway, Sweden, and Austria). An additional 12 countries saw average peak speeds increase by 30 per cent or more year-over-year.

Overall, the strong growth rates in average peak connection speeds point to ongoing improvements in the quality of Internet connectivity and the availability/affordability of high speed Internet services available within the European region.

Internet Penetration:

More than 752 million unique IPv4 addresses from 242 countries/regions connected to the Akamai Intelligent Platform, an increase of 2 per cent over the previous quarter and 13 per cent over the second quarter of 2012. Since a single IP address can represent multiple individuals in some cases – such as when users access the Web through a firewall or proxy server – Akamai estimates the total number of unique Web users connecting to its platform during the quarter to be well over one billion.

The global number of unique IP addresses seen by the Akamai Intelligent Platform grew by almost 19 million during the quarter; just over 75 per cent of countries in the world had higher unique IP address counts compared to the second quarter of 2012.

Among European countries appearing in the top 10 countries listing, yearly growth ranged from 12 per cent in Italy (ranked #9 globally) to 9.6 per cent in the UK (ranked #6), 5.3 per cent in Germany (ranked #4) and 3.8 per cent in France (ranked #7).

“The Second Quarter, 2013 State of the Internet Report notes some significant milestones and trends, including the fact that half of all connections to Akamai occurred at speeds of 4 Mbps or higher, a 25 per cent increase since the first quarter of 2012,” said David Belson, the report’s editor. “We also saw a decline in the number of countries/regions with average connection speeds of 1 Mbps or less – down to 11 from 14 in the last quarter – likely indicative of improved broadband connectivity across some of the slowest geographies. These positive trends bode well for the continued increase and adoption of broadband connectivity around the world.”

Attack Traffic and Top Ports Attacked: attack traffic originating from Europe declines by 9 per centage points

Akamai maintains a distributed set of unadvertised agents deployed across the Internet that log connection attempts, which the company classifies as attack traffic. Based on data collected by these agents, Akamai is able to identify the top countries from which attack traffic originates as well as the top ports targeted by these attacks. It is important to note, however, that the originating country identified by the source IP address may not represent that nation in which the attacker resides. For example, an individual in the United States may be launching attacks from compromised systems anywhere in the world.

In the second quarter Indonesia pushed China out of the top spot, nearly doubling its first-quarter traffic from 21 per cent to 38 per cent. China moved to second position, originating 33 per cent of all attack traffic observed while the United States remained in third position. Together, Indonesia and China originated more than half of the total observed attack traffic.
This quarter, Europe accounted for just over 10 per cent of all observed attack traffic. This represents a fall of nearly 9 per centage points quarter-over-quarter.

For the first time since the inaugural State of the Internet Report (first quarter of 2008), Port 445 (Microsoft DS) was not the most targeted port for attacks, dropping to third place at 15 per cent behind Port 443 (SSL [HTTPS]) at 17 per cent and Port 80 (WWW [HTTP] at 24 per cent.

Observations on DDoS Attacks: number of attacks increases by 54 per cent this quarter

In addition to observations on attack traffic, the State of the Internet Report includes insight into distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks based on reports from Akamai customers. In the second quarter of 2013, Akamai customers reported 318 attacks, a 54 per cent increase over the 208 reported in the first quarter. At 134 reported attacks, the Enterprise sector continued to be the leading target of DDoS attacks, followed by Commerce (91), Media & Entertainment (53), High Tech (23) and Public Sector (17).

During the quarter, a group calling themselves the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) claimed responsibility for several attacks against news and media companies during the second quarter of 2013. The attacks all employed similar spear-fishing tactics in which internal email accounts were compromised and leveraged to collect credentials to gain access to targets’ Twitter feeds, RSS feeds and other sensitive information.

European High Broadband Connectivity: Switzerland leads the region in high broadband (> 10 Mbps) adoption

European high broadband (>10 Mbps) adoption continued apace in this quarter. Switzerland led the way with 37 per cent of all connections at speed above 10 Mbps, followed by the Netherlands (31 per cent) and Czech Republic (27 per cent). Extremely strong year-over-year increases were observed in a number of European countries, with the United Kingdom up 200 per cent and Ireland up 93 per cent, while the Czech Republic, Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Poland, Spain and France saw high broadband adoption rates increase by 70 per cent or more from the second quarter of 2012.

Mobile Connectivity: data traffic grows 14 per cent in the quarter

During the second quarter of 2013, average connection speeds on surveyed mobile network operators ranged from a high of 9.7 Mbps to a low of 0.5 Mbps. Eleven operators demonstrated average connection speeds in the broadband (>4 Mbps) range and 62 operators showed average connection speeds above 1 Mbps. Data collected by Ericsson shows that the volume of mobile data traffic grew 14 per cent during the quarter and nearly doubled year-over-year.

Based on data derived from Akamai IO for the second quarter of 2013, mobile devices on cellular networks using the Android Webkit accounted for slightly less than 38 per cent of requests while Apple Mobile Safari saw nearly 34 per cent of requests. In measuring mobile devices across all network types, Apple Mobile Safari accounted for just over 54 per cent of usage while Android Webkit was responsible for 27.6 per cent.
In Europe, a mobile operator from the Czech Republic led the way with the fastest average connection speed of 6.4 Mbps, while a Greek operator achieved the highest average peak connection speed of 54.9 Mbps.

UK Country Highlights
•    UK Unique IPv4 addresses up 9.6 per cent year on year to 29,131,348
•    48 per cent year-on-year increase to 8.4Mbps of EMEA Average connection speed (5th in EMEA, 10th globally)
•    52 per cent year-on-year increase to 37.1Mbps of EMEA Average Peak Connection Speeds (7th in EMEA, 14th globally)
•    200 per cent year-on-year increase in high broadband (>10Mbps) penetration to 23 per cent (6th in EMEA, 12th globally)
•    75 per cent of broadband connections in the UK measured above 4Mbps – a 33 per cent increase year on year (9th in EMEA, 16th globally)
•    0.5 per cent of global attack traffic appeared to originate in the UK

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