In brief:

  • The United States has fallen back out of the top 10 to 11th on average internet speeds rankings after years of ranking between 8th-10th.
  • Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Switzerland have remained the most consistent top performers in global internet speed tests over the past decade.
  • Other countries that have lost notable ranking over the past several years include Canada, Japan, Australia, Norway, and Finland.
  • Global internet speed averages continue to climb, and mobile broadband reaching record highs of global adoption.

From 2010 to 2020, global average internet speeds have sped up considerably. Not only have average speeds increased, but global penetration has spread so far that now over half of the entire world's population are considered active users. While reliable fixed broadband has remained spotty in large portions of the developing world with less than 20% global adoption, The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) found that cellular broadband has spread over 85% of the developing world.

The United States had been consistently ranking between 8th and 10th for top average internet speeds globally over the last 24 months, but has recently fallen out of the rolling average top 10 to the 11th position on the list. While broadband expansion and improvement has been a focus of U.S. government agencies over the past decade, the roll out has lagged behind anticipated growth.

Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica has written extensively about lagging high speed internet expansion, with reports that up to 50 million U.S. households only have access up to 25 Mbps, less than 25% of the national average.

Similiarly, there are reports that broadband speeds have decreased for millions of U.S. household during the COVID-19 pandemic, which could also explain the recent drop in average speeds.

Below are the current averages pulled from an aggregation of available global internet service provider (ISP) speeds and compared against global index averages for a country-by-country internet speed breakdown:

CountryAverage Broadband Speeds 2020 (Mbps)
Hong Kong163.9
South Korea138.2
United States124.1
New Zealand102.2
United Arab Emirates94.9

It's important to keep in mind that while these rankings are a good benchmark of relative development and deployment of high-speed internet, it is still a net positive to see such improvements to both domestic internet speed improvements in the U.S. over the past decade, but also global internet speeds increasing. Data from the first two years of the decade show that average speeds have increased nearly tenfold in many countries in only ten years.

That being said, there are still 81 countries who average less than 25 Mbps, and 24 countries below 10 Mbps averages. A five-year study that was published in 2013 found that having reliable and fast internet access in developing countries was one of the most important factors of many key metrics in national advancement.

Our study finds that many people in low- and middle-income countries, including the underemployed, women, rural residents and other who are often marginalized, derive great benefits in such areas as education, employment and health when they use computers and the Internet at public access venues,” said Araba Sey, Information School research assistant professor and lead investigator of the study.

In closing our analysis for 2020 global internet speeds, it's of course a positive signal to rank well on these charts, but it is also important to recognize that overall, internet speeds are improving around the globe.

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