Users in places such as Egypt, Estonia and Greece enjoyed faster mobile internet speeds than their U.S. counterparts in the first quarter of 2017, according to a new survey from Akamai.
The cloud delivery company said U.S. mobile web users saw an average speed of 10.7 Mbps in the most recent quarter, ranking 28th in the world. While that was top among all countries Akamai measured in the Americas, it was far behind markets including the U.K. (which delivered the fastest average speed at 26 Mbps), Belgium (16.2 Mbps), Australia (15.7 Mbps) and Slovakia (14 Mbps).
Venezuela delivered the slowest speeds of the 62 countries Akamai measured, averaging 2.8 Mbps.
The United States performed far better in the fixed-line market, Akamai said, where the average speed increased 22% year over year to 18.7 Mbs. The data comes from Akamai’s Q1 2017 State of the Internet report, which was published last week. Recode picked up the story this morning.
Akamai’s figures suggest worldwide speeds are ramping up steadily—if not dramatically—as LTE buildouts expand in emerging markets, and as carriers in more mature markets adopt new technologies and network architectures in advance of 5G.
“Among the qualifying surveyed countries/regions, 32 in total had an average mobile connection speed at or exceeding the 10 Mbps broadband threshold (up from 30 in the previous quarter, while 60 achieved average speeds at or above the 4 Mbps broadband level (up from 58),” the company reported. “Continuing the trend of quarters past, the first quarter of 2017 saw rapid gains in mobile networks, from 4G and LTE-A deployments to 5G developments. After many delays, 4G services finally launched in Egypt in the first quarter, while in New Zealand, the government revealed that 90% of the country’s population now had access to 4G mobile services, roughly two years ahead of schedule, due to aggressive rollouts by mobile providers Vodafone New Zealand and Spark.”
Akamai’s data was published just as a new report from SpeedSmart indicated T-Mobile maintained the top average LTE download and upload speeds of any U.S. carrier in May, holding the top spot for a second straight month. T-Mobile scored 84 of 200 total points in SpeedSmart’s test, edging out Verizon’s 80 points. AT&T finished a distant third with 30 points, and Sprint ranked fourth with six points.
Analysts generally agree that mobile network speeds in the United States lag behind those of some other countries for two primary reasons: The United States is much bigger geographically than most other countries, requiring carriers to invest in expansive networks with broad reach. And while U.S. users enjoy quality fixed-line services, some countries without such infrastructures have opted to prioritize mobile.
Whether U.S. carriers can leverage 5G deployments to narrow the gap with some of its overseas counterparts remains to be seen.