The average speed of broadband continues to grow around the world, said the report Worldwide Broadband Speed League 2019. However, in Latin America, the situation is not very encouraging, and there is still a lot of work to be done.
Cable.co.uk designed and compiled the research to measure the speed of connection in the world, gathered by M-Lab, an open source project where civil society, organizations, educational institutions, and private sector companies contribute.
Two hundred seventy-six million speed tests were taken to measure the speed by country in 207 countries around the world. This sample was 60% larger than the one made last year for the same study.
Why do some countries have better Internet than others?
Different factors influence the variation of connection speed in each country, according to the report.
For example, the economy of Taiwan – the country with the best connection in the world this year – depends too much on digital infrastructure, while the extension of this Asian island occupies a relatively small size.
This economic need, coupled with the fact that it is relatively easy to deliver a high-speed connection in a small area, has allowed Taiwan to develop an infrastructure that enables it to provide an average download speed of 82.02 Mbps, with which a 5GB movie can be downloaded in just eight minutes.
Taiwan improved thirteen positions compared to last year when its average speed was 28.09 Mbps. The increase in connection speed was due to the massive migration of ADSL to fiber optic.
In other countries, the cost of extending a high-speed digital infrastructure exceeds the economic benefit they can obtain. This situation was the case of Chad, whose economy is mainly agricultural and has a vast territory. Investing in improving connectivity would exceed its Gross Domestic Product.
The speed increases worldwide
After measuring the connection speed of 207 countries over 12 months, Cable.co.uk concluded that the speed of the Internet had improved worldwide.
From 2016 to 2017, the average speed was 7.40 Mbps. The connection speed increased 23.35% the following year, and this year it grew 20.65% concerning the previous year again, reaching an average download speed of 11.03 Mbps.
However, the study points out that the countries that contributed most to the increase in the world average broadband speed were the developed nations that already have high-speed technology and broad coverage, but improved it in the last year. On the other hand, the countries that were half of the bottom of the ranking had little development in recent years.
The countries in the top 100 of the ranking improved their average speed by 25.63%, while half of the bottom only enhanced by 23.76%, promoting the increase of a digital divide.
Latin American countries, far from a prominent development
In the global ranking of Internet connection, no Latin American country managed to sneak into the top 50.
The Cayman Islands, a British overseas territory, has the best connection in the region, with a download speed of 16.12 Mbps. Venezuela is at the bottom, with an average speed of 1.37 Mbps.
Most of the countries in the region are in the middle of the world ranking, avoiding the last 40 places, but also without having a representative in the first 40 places.
As for the leading Latin American economies, both Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, and Chile fell in this year’s study. Mexico went from place 85 to 98, although its average download speed improved slightly from 5.69 Mbps to 6.02 Mbps. Colombia lost 17 seats to be placed in position 131, with an average speed of 3.48 Mbps.
The cases of Chile and Argentina were the most dramatic. These southern cone nations lost 32 and 33 positions respectively, and the average download speed worsened in both cases. Chile was ranked 124th with a connection speed of 3.89 Mbps, while Argentina fell to 149th with a broadband speed of 2.83 Mbps.
On the other hand, Brazil advanced 22 places in the study, going from 2.58 Mbps to 4.84 Mbps, which places it in 111th place worldwide.
Improve connectivity in Latin America, an unfulfilled promise
Improving Internet connectivity in the region has been one of the commitments of Latin American governments that has become difficult to fulfill.
Recently, Telefónica and América Móvil teamed up to connect Guatemala and Chile by submarine cable.
Juan Ketterer, head of the Connectivity, Market and Finance division of the Inter-American Development Bank, believes that Latin America’s coverage is limited, expensive and of poor quality due, in part, to the lack of a legal framework that gives certainty to the companies and the lack of clarity in the distribution of the radio spectrum.
The IADB analyst suggests modernizing the regulatory frameworks of the region, making more significant public investment in strategic areas such as international connections and financing infrastructure investments with public-private partnerships.
If the connectivity of the region cannot be improved, the gap between Latin America and the developed countries threatens to expand more and more.