Akamai has released its Q1 2014 State of the Internet report, which shows that South Africa is only one of two countries globally to see high speed broadband adoption rates decline year-on-year.
The report further found that South Africa was only one of four countries globally which had high speed broadband adoption rates below 10%.
Akamai’s State of the Internet report is based on data gathered from the company’s “Intelligent Platform”, and provides insights into global connectivity and Internet metrics.
This report showed that South Africa performed dismally when looking at broadband speeds, broadband adoption rates, and mobile broadband speeds.
Average broadband speeds
The latest State of the Internet report showed that the average global Internet connection speed is 3.9Mbps, a 24% increase year-on-year.
Nine of the top 10 countries saw increases in average connection speeds, including an 8% jump for first place South Korea (23.6Mbps), which is now 9Mbps ahead of second place Japan (14.6Mbps).
South Africa’s average connection speed of 2.6Mbps is not only far lower than the global average, but also the worst among listed countries in the Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.
Average peak connection speeds
The global average peak connection is 21.2 Mbps. This represents the average of the maximum measured connection speeds across all of the unique IP addresses seen by Akamai.
In South Africa, the average peak connection speed is 10Mbps – again the worst country listed in the EMEA region.
Global high broadband (>10 Mbps) adoption rates
Global high broadband (Internet connection speeds of over 10Mbps) adoption rates in the first quarter improved by 9.4% quarter-over-quarter, climbing to 21%.
All of the countries in the top 10 had high broadband adoption rates of at least 30%, with South Korea (77%), Japan (54%) and Switzerland (45%) topping the list.
South Africa and the United Arab Emirates were the only two countries to see high broadband adoption rates decline year-over-year.
South Africa lost 12% of its high speed broadband connections, and now only has a 1.4% adoption rate.
South Africa was also only one of four countries (along with Italy, Turkey, and United Arab Emirates) which had high broadband adoption rates below 10%.
Global broadband (>4 Mbps) adoption rate
The global broadband adoption rate (Internet connection speeds of over 4Mbps) increased 24% from the first quarter of 2013 to reach 56% in the first quarter of 2014.
South Korea lead the pack with a broadband adoption rate of 94%, followed by Bulgaria (93%) and Switzerland (91%).
South Africa’s broadband adoption rate of 8.2% is the lowest of all countries listed in the EMEA region.
Mobile broadband connectivity
In the first quarter of 2014, average mobile connection speeds ranged from 1.0 Mbps in Argentina to 14.7 Mbps in South Korea.
South Africa had the highest mobile broadband adoption rate in Africa at 4.8%. However, the country’s average mobile connectivity speed of 1.7Mbps was one of the lowest in the world and the lowest in Africa (among listed countries).
Time for action is now
These poor results should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been following the state of South Africa’s broadband environment over the last decade.
The communications minister changed on a regular basis, often under a cloud of controversy. The Department of Communications (DoC) has also been underperforming for years.
The DoC’s poor performance means that there has not been enough progress made in vital areas which would boost broadband in the country, like handing out valuable spectrum and migrating to digital TV.
Seeing South Africa at the bottom of these broadband tables is not likely to change unless the new Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services does something which the DoC could not achieve – do its job properly.