If you thought world internet access speeds were facing a large-scale slowdown, you can stop fretting for now. Data from Akamai suggests that average speeds were just 2.6Mbps, but that was a healthy 14 percent improvement over the fall and a noticeable 25 percent better than early 2011. Average peak internet connection speeds surged just as much in the first quarter of this year: at 13.5Mbps, the average maximum was a 10 percent season-to-season boost and that same 25 percent versus a year before. The leaders remain Asian territories with that ideal mix of dense populations and high technology, culminating in Hong Kong's blazing 49.3Mbps typical downlink. Akamai attributes much of the growth in peak speeds to an explosion in "high broadband" connections, where 10Mbps is the minimum -- countries like Denmark, Finland, South Korea, Switzerland and the US roughly doubled their adoption of extra-fast access in the past year.
Before cheering too loudly, we'd point out that mobile speeds are still trudging along despite HSPA+ and LTE making their presences felt. The most consistent speed came from an unnamed German carrier, which neared 6Mbps; the best regular American rate was 2.5Mbps, which underscores how far even some of the most developed countries have to go. There's also a clear gap in regular landline broadband quality if we go by the US' own National Broadband Plan standards. Just 60 percent of US broadband is over the 4Mbps mark, putting the US at 14th in the global ranks. We're hoping that projects like Google Fiber can raise expectations for everyone, but you can hit the source shortly to get Akamai's full study.