Thursday, July 29, 2010

Global Internet Speeds Revealed

Every quarter network giant Akamai releases a report entitled "State of the Internet", where the utilization of the net in terms of traffic, broadband speeds, and efficiency among others are measured and ranked by region and city.

The most recent report states that the average global speed is 1.7 Mbps. South Korea topped the regional ranking with an average of 12 Mbps (which is still relatively slow, considering that there is an available speed of 100 Mbps). Asian countries are notably leading the statistic, with South Korea joined by Hong Kong and Japan at the top.

Where's the Philippines in all this? The average speed as advertised by broadband providers is 512 Kbps to 1.2 Mbps, probably the rate at off-peak hours. This particular range is ideal for basic uses such as e-mail, browsing simple websites, and streaming music and low-quality videos. For most of us, movie and music files can still be downloaded--we just need to leave the computer on the whole night (or day if need be).

Countries with high speeds however can do far more than e-mail and surf. Telemedicine, educational services, standard and high-definition video, high-quality telepresence, high-definition surveillance, and smart or intelligent building control are possible.

Is it possible for Filipinos to exceed the 1 Mbps barrier? I believe it is, given the developments in infrastructure. However, the cost of availing such services is a different matter. Of course, the faster the connection, the more expensive. The high fixed cost of installing cables may be offset by distribution to a considerable number of users, and if possible, subsidy or support from the government. But as discussed in class, who's to stop giant networks and internet providers from dictating the cost of services?

Are we only as good as our internet speed? Hopefully not. In the meantime, the latest torrents would have to wait until tomorrow morning.

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