The number of devices connected to the Internet worldwide grew by nearly 3% in the third quarter of 2012 as average connection speed scaled 11%, according to Akamai's third-quarter 2012 State of the Internetreport. The cloud vendor's quarterly report, released Wednesday, reveals details on Internet performance in 180 countries around the world. The data was generated by the Akamai Intelligent Platform, which captures metrics on worldwide connection speeds, attack traffic and network connectivity.
With 119,000 servers distributed around the world, Akamai has a unique look at global Internet use. Its distributed network of servers runs within edge networks, rather than depending on servers in large data centers.
Worldwide Internet access continues to increase, in large part due to more distributed access to servers and consumer devices that connect to the Internet. According to Akamai, more than 683 million unique IP addresses from 243 countries or regions logged onto its network in Q3 2012, a 2.7% increase over the second quarter.
The United States led the country-specific rankings, with more than 145 million unique IP addresses connecting to the Akamai network, followed by China, with nearly 99 million unique addresses, and Japan with more than 40 million. Brazil, in seventh place overall with more than 22 million unique IP addresses hitting Akamai servers, increased 39% over Q3 2011, making it the biggest year-over-year gainer. The report noted Internet disruptions in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria, and on the Go Daddy network, in the quarter.
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Globally, average Internet connection speed grew 11%, to 2.8 Mbps, over the previous year. South Korea logged the fastest average, with 14.7 Mbps; followed by Japan, at 10.5 Mbps; and Hong Kong, at 9 Mbps. The United States, at 7.2 Mbps, was tied with Denmark in eighth place.
Peak global average connection speed grew 36%, year over year, to 15.9 Mbps. On that measure, Hong Kong was first, at 54.1 Mbps; followed by South Korea, 48.8 Mbps; and Japan, 42.2 Mbps. The United States was in fourteenth place, with an average peak of 29.6 Mbps.
High broadband (greater than 10 Mbps) adoption reached 11% of the world, with 41% connecting to Akamai's network with broadband (above 4 Mbps). Asian countries dominated these rankings, with high broadband reaching 52% of people in South Korea, 38% in Japan and 27% in Hong Kong. Eighteen percent of people in the U.S. have high broadband, placing it in seventh place.
Akamai also looked at security, which is a larger consideration as more businesses connect globally via the cloud through mobile Internet connections.
Akamai looked at attempts to contact its unadvertised servers to identify malicious traffic that is coming from either scanning ports or individuals. According to the report, 33% of attack traffic in Q3 originated in China, followed by 13% coming from the United States and 4.7% from Russia.
The report also detailed the denial of service attacks associated with the Operation Ababil hacktivist attacks on U.S. banksin the third quarter, suggesting that the amount of traffic and homogeneity of the attack made it different than previous hacktivist attacks.
Akamai said enterprise IT managers can use the report to help them architect and deploy technology throughout the world. "The Akamai State of the Internet report can provide enterprise IT managers with another perspective on the Internet resources available to them in various geographies. For example, having an understanding of average and peak connection speeds, or broadband accessibility in a given region, may influence the rollout of enterprise applications," said Rob Morton, senior manager at Akamai.
"In regions with high broadband accessibility and solid connection speeds, Web-only delivery may be the most efficient and economical option. In those areas where reported connection speeds and broadband accessibility are significantly lower, [businesses] may seek out other options," Morton added.
As companies gain global reach, knowing the target region's access to Internet service is important, especially when it comes to understanding users' experience of using the service or app.
Kosta Grammatis, founder of A Human Right, a nonprofit organization that works to provide Internet access worldwide, said, "Progress continues to be made in global Internet penetration and the speed of Internet access. However, global Internet penetration stands at only 34.4% -- a lack of access hinders development and slows down the progress of society. We must continue to push for universal connectivity at an accelerated pace."
Grammatis said that earlier this year his organization convinced eFive, which is building a 6,200-mile transatlantic cable from South America to Africa, to change the cable's route, and bring high-speed Internet and opportunities to St. Helena, an island isolated in the middle of the South Atlantic.