BROADBAND SPEEDS in the UK have slipped, according to a report by global services provider Akamai.
In the final three months of 2011, Blighty's broadband customers saw a drop in average download speeds from 5.1Mbit/s in the previous quarter to 4.9Mbit/s, a decline of 3.5 per cent.
However, it wasn't exclusively the UK that saw a regression of broadband internet speeds. The web content delivery company said in its fourth quarter State of the Internet report released Monday, "The global average connection speed saw an unusual, and fairly significant, decline in the fourth quarter of 2011, dropping to 2.3Mbps. It was reflected in declines in eight of the top 10 countries, as well as the US."
Akamai was unable to explain the decline in broadband speeds, but said a number of factors, including peak network usage rates, were potential influences.
"A survey released in November 2011 found that broadband ISP download speeds in the United Kingdom fell by an average of 35 per cent during periods of peak usage (between 7-9pm), when most people go online; peak speeds were observed between 2-3am," Akamai said.
"It may be the case that greater congestion at the last mile due to heavier usage occurred in the fourth quarter, driving down observed average connection speeds."
Various other sets of data collected by Akamai demonstrated the UK's lag in the global broadband market, ranking 16th in Europe for average measured connection speed and 14th for average peak connection speed. That's pretty dismal, considering the UK's posture as one of the world's leading technology patrons.
Britain also failed to make a showing in the top 100 cities worldwide for broadband speediness, which was dominated by the Asia-Pacific region.
We have asked British broadband vendors Virgin Media and BT for their thoughts on Akamai's findings, but they were yet to comment at the time of publication.
It wasn't all bad news for us Brits, though. Akamai reported that 91 per cent of UK connections were measured at above 2Mbit/s, suggesting that the nation is still on target to reach universal coverage of at least 2Mbit/s by 2015.
Overall, broadband speeds across the globe were largely disappointing. 93 nations saw lower download rates, while less than half of that figure, 41 saw increases. The top two countries, South Korea and Japan, saw increases in average download speeds to 17.5Mbps and 9.1Mbps, respectively.
Finland and Sweden were the only two European countries that managed to increase their average speeds, at 5.9Mbps and 5.5Mbps, respectively. The European country with the fastest download rate was the Netherlands at 8.2Mbps, but this still represented a decline of 3.2 per cent. µ