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Post the demonetisation announcement, the Indian government emphasised on embracing the cashless economy and making using of digital payment modes wherever possible, but is India really up for the challenge? Well, according to a new report published by Akamai, a US-based cloud services provider, it apparently isn’t even close. According to the report, with just 4.1 Mbps average connection speed, India acquires a sad 105th position on world’s fastest internet connectivity speeds list. With 26.3 megabits per second, South Korea topped the list, and was the only country above the 25 Mbps threshold in Q3 2016. It was followed by Hong Kong at the second position with 20.1 Mbps and Norway at third with 20 Mbps.

Image Credit: Akamai

Image Credit: Akamai

South Korea was once again the top country in the world for the average connection speed metric, despite having a 2.5% quarter-over-quarter drop in average connection speeds. It has been able to achieve this position as a result of 20 years of hard labor of the South Korean government. It was in the 1990s that the South Korean government realised the great potential the broadband industry holds for the economy and aggressively started pursuing it. After building a robust national infrastructure for high-speed internet and liberalising the telecommunications sector, it introduced regulations to keep the broadband market competitive in the country . In order to encourage citizens to embrace computers and high-speed internet connections, the government even went ahead and subsidised the entire cost for low-income people and others not connected to internet at the time.

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The 2.5% drop in the average internet connectivity in South Korea has resulted in narrowing the gap between it and the lowest-ranked Asia Pacific country, India from 23 Mbps to 22 Mbps. Similar to Q2, even Q3 witnessed quarterly gains across almost 11 of the 15 Asia Pacific countries/ regions surveyed, ranging from 3.4% in Hong Kong to 22% in Vietnam. The quarter saw three countries pulling up double-digit quarterly gains, compared with four in the second quarter.

Search giant Google has its eyes set on the Asia Pacific region and has made several infrastructure investments in the region during the third quarter of 2016. In June, Google in partnership with five major Asian telecommunications companies deployed FASTER, which is a 60 Tbps submarine cable linking Japan and the United States. In September last year, Google announced that extension of the cable linking Japan and Taiwan was ready for service. The cable is expected to boost speeds for Google services throughout Asia. Closer home, Google entered into a partnership with the Indian Railways and RailTel to bring public Wi-Fi to more than 50 train stations across India, with more than 3.5 million users accessing it each month.

When it comes to average peak connections speed in the third quarter, South Korea once again topped the chart with 162 Mbps, while India acquired a lowly 107th position with just 27 Mbps average peak connections speed.

Between the year 1996 and 2001, the world witnessed an astonishing a six-fold rise in Korean internet hosts. With 78%, South Korea is also the world leader in broadband adoption. The second position is taken by Japan with 68%.

According to experts, the thing which works in South Koreas’s favour is its high population density. It has been noted that over 80% of the country’s citizens reside in urban areas—setting up fast connections over short distances is much easier and efficient. In fact, the reason why countries like Hong Kong and Singapore also have good internet speed is mainly because they enjoy a 100% urban population. According to the Akamai report, at a 5.3% increase, Singapore witnessed the greatest jump in connection speeds from the previous quarter.

Overall, the Akamai report highlighted that the global average connection speed increased by 2.3% from Q2 to Q3 2016, and settled at 6.3 Mbps.

An interesting thing to note in the Top 10 list is despite the fact that Latvia, South Korea, and Norway witnessed quarterly decreases of 3.5%, 2.5%, and 0.2% respectively, they somehow managed to retain a spot for themselves in the top ten. However, Iceland unfortunately couldn’t do the same. With a 5.4% drop in speed from Q2 to Q3, it had to settle at the 14th spot from 10th position in the previous quarter.

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