Despite All Odds, Global Internet Speeds Continue Impressive Increase
“A lot has changed” we wrote in our 2019 global roundup of internet speeds based on the Speedtest Global Index™. Little did we know how much was about to change. But two things remain the same: the internet is getting faster and the Speedtest Global Index is still a fantastic resource for tracking improvements on a global and country level (if we do say so ourselves). Today we’re taking a look back at how much internet speeds have increased over the past four years and which countries have seen some of the largest gains.
Mobile download speed jumped 59.5% over the last year globally, fixed broadband up 31.9%
The global mean of download speeds improved over the last 12 months on both mobile and fixed broadband to 55.07 Mbps and 107.50 Mbps, respectively, in July 2021. Mobile saw an increase of 59.5% when comparing July 2020 to July 2021 and fixed broadband saw an increase of 31.9%, according to the Speedtest Global Index.
Looking further back, mean download speed over mobile was 98.9% faster in July 2021 than in July 2019, 141.4% faster when comparing July 2021 to July 2018, and 194.0% faster when comparing July 2021 to June 2017, the month we began tracking speeds on the Speedtest Global Index. Over the last two years there were only two months when the global average for mobile download speed did not show an upward slope: February and March 2020. Speeds began increasing again in April 2020, but did not recover to pre-February levels until May 2020. This coincides with initial lockdowns due to COVID-19 in many countries.
On fixed broadband, mean download speed was 68.2% faster in July 2021 than in July 2019, 131.3% faster in July 2021 than in July 2018, and 196.1% faster in July 2021 than in June 2017. There was a similar dip in download speed over fixed broadband in March of 2020 as we saw on mobile. The speed increased again in April 2020 but did not recover to a pre-March level until April 2020.
Top 10 rankings are somewhat constant over three years, U.S. and Canada slip off in 2021
There has been surprising parity of which countries continue to occupy the top 10 spots on the Speedtest Global Index in July of each year. However, the lists for mobile and fixed broadband are radically different, with only one country (South Korea) showing up on both lists in 2021.
The United Arab Emirates and South Korea maintain their first and second place rankings for mobile in both 2020 and 2021 and China and Qatar merely flip-flop for third and fourth place. It’s interesting to see Australia and Canada decline in the rankings although their speeds have increased dramatically during the past three years. 5G is shifting mobile rankings where even countries with 5G (which few countries had in 2019) need a strong 5G focus to maintain their presence at the top of the list lest they be outpaced by other countries with larger investments in 5G.
The fixed broadband rankings are more dynamic than those on mobile. Monaco traveled up and down the top 10 from sixth place in 2019 to 10th in 2020 to first place in 2021. Singapore ranked first or second in all three years and Hong Kong (SAR) was in the top four. Romania was solidly in fifth place while South Korea dropped lower in the ranking every year. Chile and Denmark both debuted in the top 10 in 2021 and the United States dropped off the list.
Most of the top 10 countries perform well for fixed and mobile
We were curious to see if countries that made the top 10 in July 2021 for either mobile or fixed broadband were also performing well on the other medium, so we plotted the percentage difference from the global average for mobile download speed against download speed on fixed broadband. Note that the global average increased between 2020 and 2021 and that Liechtenstein and Monaco are not included in this comparison as they did not have sufficient samples to be listed on both axes.
Most countries that made the top 10 in July 2021 for either mobile or fixed broadband were performing well over the global average for both at that point in time. South Korea and the U.A.E. stood out with mean mobile download speeds that were more than 240% faster than the global average and fixed broadband downloads that were more than 70% faster than the global average. China’s mobile download speed was more than 180% faster than the global average and the country was more than 70% faster than the global average for fixed broadband. Switzerland’s mobile and fixed broadband download speeds were close to 100% faster than the global average.
Chile and Thailand are in a quadrant that shows both had faster than average fixed broadband download speeds, but their mobile download speeds were slower than the global average in July 2021. Australia, Bulgaria, Cyprus and Saudi Arabia were in the opposite quadrant with faster than average mobile speeds and below average fixed broadband speeds.
Comparing the chart for July 2021 to that of July 2020, we saw a wide variety of outcomes. Countries with increases compared to the global average on mobile and fixed broadband included Australia, Cyprus, Denmark, Hong Kong, Romania and the U.A.E. Chile and Norway showed dramatic increases compared to the global average on fixed broadband and declines on mobile. Bulgaria, China, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Switzerland increased on mobile but showed little change on fixed. South Korea and Qatar increased on mobile compared to the global average and declined on fixed. Singapore and Thailand declined on both mobile and fixed broadband compared to the global average.
We’re interested to see how global speeds and rankings change over time as individual countries and their providers choose to invest in different technologies. Track your country’s performance using monthly updates on the Speedtest Global Index. Check the Ookla 5G Map™ for up-to-date information on 5G deployments where you live, and if you want more in-depth analyses, subscribe to Ookla Insights™.