The economy may have faltered, but the Internet continues growing by leaps and bounds as people keep moving online in droves — and at faster speeds.
Content delivery network vendor Akamai (NASDAQ:AKAM) today released its Q1 2009 State of the Internet report, showing that on both a year-over-year and quarterly basis, the Internet is growing despite the current global recession.
The total number of IP addresses seen by Akamai’s network of global servers grew by 28 percent compared to last year. In the U.S. alone, Akamai saw growth of 20 percent. The speeds at which users are connecting to the Internet are also improving: Globally, connections grew faster by 29 percent on a year-over-year basis.
At present, average global connection speed to the Internet totals 1.7 Mbps, Akamai said. In the U.S., the average connection speed is now 4.2 Mbps, a 15 percent increase over the figure Akamai reported for the first quarter of 2008.
“I don’t think we’ve seen a significant impact from the recession on either the growth of Internet connectivity, which is trending upwards, or growth in broadband penetration,” David Belson, Akamai’s director of market intelligence, told InternetNews.com.”Even in spite of the recession, we’re seeing a lot of new fiber being put in and new broadband packages being brought to market. I think it’s the kind of thing where people really are looking at connectivity as a utility like a water or electric bill.”
Broadband penetration also continues growing. Akamai said that globally, 20 percent of all connections are broadband — 5 Mbps or faster.
Japan also seized the top spot as the nation with the largest percentage of connections at 5 Mbps or faster, with broadband accounting for 57 percent of all of its Internet connections. South Korea, which held the title of the world’s fastest for all of 2008, slipped to second place with broadband accounting for 52 percent of all of its connections.
The U.S. continues to rank far behind, coming in twelfth in the world with 26 percent of connections at 5 Mbps or faster. That’s a steep drop from its position last year, when, during the first quarter of 2008, the U.S. came in seventh.
Meanwhile, the state of Delaware retained its crown as the fastest state in the nation with average connection speeds of 7.2 Mbps.
With broadband on the rise globally and in the U.S., narrowband connection are correspondingly on the decline. On a global basis, Akamai reported a 39 percent decline on a year-over-year basis in the number of narrowband connections, which it defines as dialup Internet connections at speeds of 256 Kbps or below.
Not all those lost narrowband connections end up as high-speed broadband connections, either: Some users trade up to faster connections that still rank below Akamai’s cut-off. The company does not include statistics on connection speeds between 256 Kbps to 2 Mbps, Belson said.
“We have the data, but when we put the report together, we figured it’s not interesting,” Belson said. “The narrowband connections are interesting as it shows the people who are in the slow lane. The 2 Mbps plus connections are the people that are able to consume the higher-quality video that is now being put online. We looked at the mid-tier (256 Kbps to 2 Mbps) and didn’t see it as having an interesting impact.”
Currently, Akamai tracks unique IPv4 address only and not the next-generation IPv6 address space. Belson noted that Akamai currently has engineering efforts underway regarding IPv6, but did not elaborate.
“I think we’ll see continued growth in IP counts even as IPv6 penetration get broader, but I don’t expect a massive jump,” he said. “Given the slow and steady space that it has been taking for IPv6 adoption, unless there is a point at which those who govern the Internet say that, for example, as of January 1, only IPv6 connections will be allowed … I don’t expect a massive jump.”