When analyzing the improvement of internet speeds in recent quarters, 2018 was mostly a good year. On a global scale, both download and upload speeds have increased on fixed broadband and mobile. With gigabit services continuing to expand and 5G on the horizon, the internet is an undeniable driving force of every country’s economy and a basic component of modern life.
Yet, the online ecosystem isn’t homogenous among global nations. When assessing a country’s technological advancements and online infrastructure, different countries have varying characteristics and opportunities. These differing attributes directly affect internet speed, which is affected by:
— where the individual accessing the internet is located,
— where the web destination is hosted, and
— the quality and specific network properties that the internet connection must travel through along the way.
Trends in internet speeds typically reflect a country’s political system and the state of its technological progress. For example, countries with the highest speeds are leaders in innovation and personal liberties, whereas lower speeds denote poor internet infrastructure and, in some cases, a violation of civil liberties (with censorship and government surveillance impacting equipment efficiency).
Before we explore the world’s fastest and slowest speeds, let’s first examine the way speed is calculated and measured.
How internet speed is measured
Internet speed, which refers to the speed in which data or content travels from the World Wide Web to your computer or mobile device, is measured in Megabits per second (Mbps).
There are two main types of speeds that are taken into account when calculating a country’s average internet speed:
— Download speeds, or the time it takes for digital data to be transferred from the internet to your device
— Upload speeds, which refers to the rate in which digital data is transferred from your device to the Internet
The Nitty Gritty
To break the measurement Mbps down even further, one Megabit is equivalent to 1,024 Kilobits. This means one Megabits per second is 1,000 times faster than one Kilobits per second (Kbps). High-speed internet, better known as broadband (broad bandwidth) is defined by download speeds of at least 768 Kbps and upload speeds of at least 200 Kbps.
The fastest global speeds – March 2019
So, with these metrics in mind, it’s time to gauge which countries across the globe demonstrate the fastest and slowest internet speeds on average.
Based on data from the Speedtest Global Index, which ranks international mobile and fixed broadband speeds on a monthly basis, here are the top 15 countries in each category as of March 2019:
Fastest Mobile Global Speeds
— Download – 26.12 Mbps
— Upload – 10.26 Mbps
Rank Country Mbps
1 Norway 67.54
2 Canada 65.90
3 Qatar 60.97
4 Netherlands 60.60
5 Australia 58.87
6 South Korea 54.89
7 United Arab Emirates 53.83
8 Singapore 53.69
9 Switzerland 51.93
10 Denmark 50.59
11 Belgium 50.57
12 Sweden 49.79
13 Malta 48.86
14 Czech Republic 48.84
15 Albania 47.98
Fastest Fixed Broadband Global Speeds
— Download – 57.91 Mbps
— Upload – 28.68 Mbps
Rank Country Mbps
1 Singapore 199.62
2 Hong Kong (SAR) 168.69
3 Monaco 137.86
4 Romania 136.95
5 South Korea 132.63
6 Hungary 122.26
7 Sweden 120.42
8 United States 117.31
9 Switzerland 117.18
10 Liechtenstein 115.12
11 Andorra 114.84
12 Canada 114.72
13 Spain 111.13
14 France 109.83
15 Luxembourg 107.60
The slowest global speeds – March 2019
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the countries with the slowest mobile global speeds include Cuba, Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq, and Algeria with speeds less than 6.9 Mbps, on average.
Moreover, the countries with the slowest fixed broadband speeds as of March 2019 include Algeria, Mauritania, Venezuela, Turkmenistan, and Yemen, which all come in under 4.5 Mbps.
*Note: Data for the Speedtest Global Index is based on hundreds of millions of tests taken by real people using Speedtest each month. From January 1, 2019 onward, countries must have at least 300 unique user test results for mobile or fixed broadband in the reported month to be included in the Index.
An all-encompassing look at internet speeds in 2018
While these rankings for the month of March 2019 prove interesting, it is worthwhile to “zoom out” and analyze a more all-encompassing view of internet speeds on a global scale over recent months. Doing so provides insight into not just the world’s consistently fastest or slowest countries, but also the differences in speeds year over year.
To provide a birds-eye view of global speeds and internet usage, Speedtest released a report titled “The World’s Internet in 2018: Faster, Modernizing and Always On” to highlight the findings from their data platform between December 2017 and November 2018.
Here are some of the report’s key highlights:
While both fixed and mobile broadband speeds increased at a slower rate in 2018 than in 2017, fixed broadband speeds increased by more than 26% on average in 2018.
— Global average download speed in 2018 = 46.12 Mbps
— 26.4% faster than 2017
— Global average upload speed in 2018 = 22.44 Mbps
— 26.5% faster than 2017
Mobile speeds increased by more than 15% in 2018.
— Global average download speed in 2018 = 22.82 Mbps
— 15.2% faster than 2017
— Global average upload speed in 2018 = 9.19 Mbps
— 11.6% faster than 2017
Worldwide speeds on iOS devices were faster than on Android in 2018.
— iOS devices showed a mean download speed of 27.84 Mbps and a mean upload rate of 10.61 Mbps.
— Android devices showed a mean download speed of 21.35 Mbps and a mean upload rate of 8.73 Mbps.
The comparison between iOS and Android devices demonstrates the current market—Android devices have historically been more popular in emerging markets where internet speeds are slower. However, download speeds on Android devices increased 19% and upload speed increased 15.1% in 2018, which was more than speeds on iOS devices by comparison (18% for downloads and 11.1% for uploads). For emerging markets, then, these statistics provide validation for the continued growth of Android popularity.
Furthermore, Speedtest’s 2018 report named the following countries as having the fastest internet speeds, mobile and fixed broadband:
Top 5 Fastest Countries: Mobile
Rank Country Mbps
1 Norway 63.19
2 Iceland 58.68
3 Qatar 55.17
4 Singapore 54.71
5 Netherlands 53.42
Top 5 Fastest Countries: Fixed Broadband
Rank Country Mbps
1 Singapore 175.13
2 Iceland 153.03
3 Hong Kong (SAR) 138.31
4 South Korea 114.67
5 Romania 109.90
It is interesting to examine these speeds more closely, because they represent a 12-month period of time (December 2017 to November 2018). Returning to the speeds reported above for March 2019, it becomes clear that Norway has remained in the number one spot for mobile speeds for nearly 16 months and counting.
Qatar and the Netherlands were also in the top five in both Speedtest’s 2018 report and in March 2019, speaking to the consistency of these countries’ mobile internet speeds.
In comparing the fixed broadband speeds between the two data sets, Singapore has taken the top spot for 16 months (175.13 Mbps average between 2017-18, and 199.62 Mbps in March 2019).
Hong Kong (SAR), South Korea and Romania were also in the top five in both Speedtest’s 2018 report and in March 2019, again suggesting these countries’ consistency and overall efficiency in fixed broadband.
What about the world’s most populated countries?
When studying these statistics a bit closer, it becomes blatantly obvious that the world’s five most populous countries are missing from the ‘fast’ lists.
India, China, the United States, Brazil and Indonesia—the five most populated nations, representing close to 46% of the world’s population—are worth examining in terms of internet speeds.
According to Speedtest’s data from December 2017 to November 2018, China’s mobile download speed was the fastest of the five largest countries:
Mobile Speeds in World’s Largest Countries
Rank Country Mbps
1 China 30.96
2 United States 28.50
3 Brazil 18.65
4 Indonesia 10.39
5 India 9.11
In terms of the largest countries’ fixed broadband speeds, the United States showcased the fastest internet speeds:
Fixed Broadband Speeds in World’s Largest Countries
Rank Country Mbps
1 United States 92.77
2 China 76.03
3 India 23
4 Brazil 22.95
5 Indonesia 14.89
It’s important to note alongside both of these lists that China’s mobile download speed decrease in 2018 in comparison to 2017 by -5.8%, whereas India’s fixed broadband download speed improved most among the largest countries in 2018 (a whopping 50% increase.)
So, clearly the internet is getting faster, but…
While these statistics emphatically reinforce the fact that the internet is growing faster every year, it is also critical that we recognize the underlying issues in these measurements:
The countries that are the main contributors to the rising average global internet speed are developed nations with established infrastructure and continuous roll-outs of technological advancements.
Furthermore, there is little development in the slowest countries, who showcase little change in terms of availability, roll-out of new technologies, and uptake of speedier online infrastructure.The countries with the fastest speeds, year over year, are therefore likely to be more developed and smaller in size. Whereas the larger and less developed the country is, the slower their internet will probably be.