2broadband_internet_2009-2010The results of the second annual global study on the quality of broadband connections done at end of 2009 reveal that 62 out of the 66 countries analyzed had improved the quality of consumer broadband services since last year. However, new data from the study highlights the extent of the digital quality divide between urban and rural areas and, for the first time, compares the quality of fixed and mobile broadband services.

The first groundbreaking Broadband Quality Study was published in September 2008 to highlight each country’s ability to benefit from next-generation web applications and services. The research team found that broadband quality is linked to a nation’s advancement as a knowledge economy and countries with broadband on their national agenda had the highest broadband quality. This year’s report covers an additional 24 countries and includes new analysis on broadband quality in more than 240 cities.

Highlights / Key Facts:

  • Overall average broadband quality increased across the globe:
    • Global average download throughput increased by 49% to 4.75 Megabits per second (Mbps)
    • Global average upload throughput increased by 69% to 1.3 Mbps
    • Global average latency decreased by 21% to 170 milliseconds
  • South Korea tops the 2009 Broadband Leadership table.

Broadband Penetration (% of households)

Broadband Quality Score 2009

Broadband Leadership 2009

1

South Korea

97%

66

139

2

Japan

64%

64

115

3

Hong Kong

99%

33

111

4

Sweden

69%

57

110

5

Switzerland

90%

40

108

6

Netherlands

83%

46

108

7

Singapore

96%

32

107

8

Luxembourg

99%

27

107

9

Denmark

82%

45

106

10

Norway

84%

38

102

  • South Korea rose just above last year’s broadband quality leader Japan with a 72% improvement in its Broadband Quality Score (BQS). This improvement has been driven by continuous efforts by the government to strengthen the country’s position as one of the world’s ICT leaders. Combined with higher broadband penetration, South Korea rises above Japan in the global Broadband Leadership rankings.
  • Japan stands out as having the cities with the highest BQS in the world, with Yokohama and Nagoya leading the BQS rankings and Sapporo not far behind.
  • Sweden has the highest quality broadband internet in Europe. It is rapidly catching up with Japan and South Korea as its BQS improves 38% from 2008. Sweden is the most successful country in closing the broadband quality gap with residents outside the most populated cities enjoying better quality than those in the cities.
  • Lithuania, Bulgaria and Latvia come just behind Sweden in quality boosted by recent city-based fibre rollouts and cable improvements but low broadband penetration means these countries have yet to break into the broadband leaders’ category.
  • 39 countries have a BQS above the threshold required to deliver a consistent quality of experience for the most common web applications today, such as social networking, streaming low-definition video, web communications and sharing small files such as photos and music.
  • Nine countries, South Korea, Japan, Sweden, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Latvia, The Netherlands, Denmark and Romania, were found to have the broadband quality required for future web applications, such as high definition Internet TV viewing and high-quality video communications (such as home telepresence) that will become mainstream in the next 3 to 5 years. In 2008, only Japan exceeded this threshold.
  • The research compares countries according to their stage of economic development :
    • Amongst the developed, innovation-driven economies, South Korea achieved the greatest improvement in broadband quality over the past year with a 73% increase in BQS. Sweden, the USA and the Czech Republic also saw significant above average improvements.
    • Amongst efficiency-driven economies, Bulgaria topped the most improved list with a 57% increase in BQS from 2009. Lithuania, Romania and Latvia also achieved above average improvements.
    • Amongst factor-driven economies, Kenya actually trebled its BQS but the overall score for Kenya remains well below the threshold required for today’s applications. Vietnam and Qatar followed Kenya as having made the most progress in broadband quality for countries in this stage of economic development.
  • The cities with the highest BQS of all the countries in the study were:
Top 10 Cities BQS Next 10 Cities BQS
Yokohama, Japan 85 Rotterdam, The Netherlands 55
Nagoya, Japan 82 Riga, Latvia 54
Kaunas, Lithuania 79 Copenhagen, Denmark 53
Sapporo, Japan 72 Bucharest, Romania 52
Seoul, South Korea 68 Stockholm, Sweden 51
Malmo, Sweden 67 Vilnius, Lithuania 50
Osaka, Japan 65 Zurich, Switzerland 49
Wuhan, China 60 Tokyo, Japan 49
Uppsala, Sweden 57 Goteborg, Sweden 49
Sofia, Bulgaria 56 Kosice, Slovakia 48
  • The research team compared the difference between the BQS in the most populated cities with the BQS in the rest of the country. Although a digital quality divide was found in the majority of countries, 13 countries showed significant differences in BQS between its major cities and the rest of the country. Lithuania, Russia and Latvia had the biggest digital quality divide, while rural residents in Sweden, United Arab Emirates and Iceland enjoyed similar, if not slightly higher quality broadband services than their city counterparts.
  • The country with the highest broadband quality outside of its major cities was Japan, followed by Korea and Sweden.
  • The study also included data on the quality of mobile broadband services for the first time. On average, mobile devices connecting to WiFi services meet the broadband quality threshold required for today’s mobile Internet applications. The average BQS of 3G and 3G+ technologies do not currently meet the threshold due to low upload throughput.
 

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