Streaming live events like the upcoming summer Olympics is quickly becoming possible for large numbers of Internet users, according to research released on Tuesday by Akamai. The company’s Q4 2015 State of the Internet Report shows average connection speeds rapidly increasing, particularly at the high-end, with the number of “4K-ready” and 25 Mbps connections up dramatically quarter-over-quarter.
The global average connection speed increased by 8.6 percent from the previous quarter to 5.6 Mbps, a 23 percent year-over-year improvement. Connection speeds and broadband adoption have been increasing steadily since Q4 2014, according to the report.
“This quarter’s report shows great year-over-year growth in average connection speeds and overall broadband adoption,” said David Belson, editor of the report. “This is particularly important as consumer expectations rise and many high-profile events, like the summer games in Rio, will be streamed this year. The progress we’re seeing across our key metrics shows that, while there’s still work to be done, more parts of the world are increasingly able to support the delivery of broadcast-quality video content online.”
The number of global Internet connections reaching the “broadband speed” threshold of 4 Mbps increased by 5.8 percent from Q3, and 17 percent on the year, to 69 percent overall. While this gain may seem impressive, it is mild compared to the 34 percent year-over-year increase in 10 Mbps connections, let alone the whopping 54 percent annual growth in “4K-ready” 15 Mbps connections, and a huge increase in 25 Mbps connections. Those fast speeds were available to 7.1 percent of unique IP addresses, a 37 percent increase from Q3, and 74 percent for 2015, despite a 15 percent yearly decrease in Q3.
IPv4 connections slightly increased in Q4, with most countries and regions increasing unique IPv4 connections to Akamai, while 13 declined by 10 percent or more. The number of top providers with a quarter of content requests coming via IPv6 remained similar to last quarter, but the number with 10 percent or more of requests coming via IPv6 fell from 20 of 20 to 18.
The overall and regional increases in connection speeds observed in the report suggest a disparity between the connected first world, where speeds are significantly improving, and the developed world, where the next wave of broadband threshold connections should come from. The IPv4 and IPv6 numbers likewise may indicate that the developed world will soon mostly use IPv6, while the dwindling pool of IPv4 addresses matter less to other regions, as shown by recent statistics from Google.
Nominet CEO Russel Haworth wrote a blog post urging the Internet community to support the efforts of underserved regions to come online as ICANN met in Africa earlier this month.