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New study: Average global broadband speeds up nearly 21% as fiber spreads

Broadband speeds are increasing around the world, especially in countries where operators are moving to install more fiber in their networks.

The average global broadband speed measured between May 2018 and May 2019 was 11.03 Mbps, up 20.65% over the previous year, according to recent data from the broadband comparison site Cable.co.uk. Dan Howdle, a consumer telecom analyst at Cable.co.uk, noted that some countries are seeing much faster increases than others, especially in places where there is a push to install fiber to more homes and businesses.

"In all cases, those countries ranking highest are those with a strong focus on pure fiber [FTTP, or fiber-to-the-premises] networks," Howdle said in a news release.

In particular, Taiwan saw a huge year-over-year jump in speeds, catapulting to the top spot in Cable.co.uk's global broadband speed rankings. The data — gathered for Cable.co.uk by M-Lab, an open-source project with contributors from civil society organizations, educational institutions and private sector companies — showed a mean download speed in Taiwan of 85.02 Mbps, up from 28.09 Mbps in the year-ago period.

Meanwhile, Singapore grabbed the second seat, with a mean download speed of 70.86 Mbps, up from 60.39 Mbps a year ago.

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In both instances, speed increases are being driven by migration to pure fiber services from slower technologies, such as copper-based DSL, according to Cable.co.uk's Howdle.

This is in line with data published earlier this year from Kagan, a research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence. Kagan analysts Angelu Almenteros, Wangxing Zhao and Jessica Fuk found that in at least nine markets in the Asia-Pacific region — Australia, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam — FTTP-based fixed broadband technology has become the leading broadband platform over the past 10 years.

The Kagan analysts said this shift has been enabled by a number of national broadband initiatives in these countries that have led to increased deployment for operators and greater adoption of high-speed services among consumers.

The Taiwanese government, for instance, has declared its focus on FTTP as the most cost-effective, high-speed telecommunications solution, while the country's National Communications Commission has used various rate control maneuvers to ensure affordability. In Singapore, the government-backed fiber-optic National Broadband Network overbuilt the cable network. The site Cable.co.uk noted Singapore's "vibrant digital economy and diminutive landmass" offer the country "significant advantages when it comes to infrastructural development."

The U.S., meanwhile, came in 15th on Cable's global rankings, with an average speed of 32.89 Mbps, up from 25.86 Mbps a year earlier. Notably, however, because of its size and population, the U.S. represented the largest sample population in the study, with 132.5 million speed tests from almost 25.7 million distinct IP addresses.

By comparison, Taiwan's average speed is based on 151,312 speed tests from 36,584 distinct IPs, while Singapore's is based on 908,780 speed tests from 227,665 distinct IPs.

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