As the internet and technology brings the corners of civilization closer together, the world is shrinking. But how quickly?
Every country is indexed by color for fast visual comparisons of global broadband speeds. The darker the color, the higher that country ranked in the worldwide broadband speed list when compared to the rest of the world.
Show detailed speed data for each country by scrolling over the country you're most interested in. Information includes the country’s rank out of 221 countries, the average download speed, and time to download a 5 GB movie with that average speed.
Speed. Blindingly fast internet speed or agonizingly slow internet speed determines how a country ranks. Download speed and upload speed for fixed broadband all comes into play. What helps a country make those internet speed scores is far more complex. Generally, countries with more urban populations, stronger economies, and their proximity to more developed areas of the world have more robust infrastructure that supports high-speed broadband availability.
Geography also affects broadband in that smaller countries don't have the same logistical problems as countries with vast areas that must be provided with service.
For example, the fastest (as of 2020) broadband connection in any country is Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein only covers an area of about 62 square miles in size.
By comparison, the United States (ranked 20th in 2020) covers just under 3.7 million square miles.
Some countries on the map are gray and have no data. This reflects situations where broadband isn’t available at all or isn’t widely available (or affordable). The reasons are usually political or geographical.
First, there might be political barriers to collecting the data, such as in North Korea. In that case, the government tightly controls what information can be gathered by those outside the country. Some countries may be blank because temporary civil or political unrest has disrupted services or information about services.
Second, some countries may be underdeveloped and broadband simply isn’t available in any widespread manner in those areas. For example, Democratic Republic of the Congo faces challenges because difficult terrain exacerbates the logistics of broadband service or even electricity.
Widespread poverty and rampant inflation reaching nearly 50% in 2017 also affects the numbers. The economic trouble means that even if broadband was available, most citizens wouldn’t be able to afford it or have the equipment to use it.
Here are some quick slices of information on the fastest broadband performers in the 2020 world study.
In addition to ranking fastest in broadband speed, Liechtenstein is enjoying over a decade of growth in internet use with 98% of the population counted as internet users per the World Bank.
Jersey (the largest of the Channel Islands) enjoys high broadband speeds thanks to a 2018 installation of fiber internet for the entire country. The infrastructure is planned for further updates. That design will allow for service and speed improvements to continue without drastic infrastructure investments and construction in the future.
Internet service in Andorra is nationalized and high-speed internet infrastructure was completed nationwide around 2012. This led to a high rate of internet users within the country at about 92%.
Gibraltar is a tiny autonomous territory of the UK, located south of Spain. At only about 2 ½ square miles, keeping the country supplied with high-speed internet is relatively simple compared to larger landmass countries. Internet use by citizens hovers around 94% according to the latest World Bank data available.
While not every country has seen broadband improvements, globally, average speeds continue to rise quickly. The last full year measurements (2019) for global broadband speeds by Ookla saw a 23.4% mobile download increase over 2018, a slightly smaller increase than the 31.7% fixed broadband speed increase in 2019
While average global speeds increased, the picture isn’t as rosy for those countries in the lower speed tiers of tests. Nearly the entire continent of Africa and most of the Middle East are still stuck in slower speed tiers.
Over 60 countries have download speeds below 5 Mb/second, meaning that the 5GB movie that takes two minutes to download in Liechtenstein takes over 19 hours to download in South Sudan.
Even in areas with higher speeds, such as Western Europe, countries are being left behind. As some countries, such as Liechtenstein, reach triple-digit download speeds, others are falling behind the pack.
The UK is now one of the slowest in its region with download speeds of around 37 Mb/second, putting it behind other less developed parts of the world, such as several Caribbean countries.
Let’s take a look at how global regions (as defined in the MLab broadband study) stack up in broadband speeds.
This region includes 27 countries with measured broadband speeds and nine countries in the top 100 fastest broadband speeds globally. While the average speed of the region was 20.18 Mb/second, there was a drastic speed gap between the high and low speeds across the region.
Hong Kong topped the region speed at 105.32 Mb/second (8th globally) and Timor-Leste was at the bottom with only 0.89 Mb/second (216 out of 221 globally).
The Baltics region (Baltic States) is small, with only three countries included in the broadband global measurements. These three, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia all placed in the top 50 globally. Estonia topped the list at 70.90 Mb/second (21st globally) and Latvia was on the bottom regionally at 52.32 Mb/second (35 globally).
The Caribbean region includes 27 countries, many of which rely on tourism for much of their GDP. Smaller islands and those without significant tourism tended to score lower than larger and more developed island nations.
The regional average was 20.77 Mb/second with Aruba (12th globally) showing the region’s fastest speed at 89.81 Mb/second. Cuba (185th globally) was the region’s slowest broadband at only 3.16 Mb/second.
Central America is another mixed bag region. While one of the eight countries in the region cracked the top 50 globally (Panama at 49th), the region’s average speed overall was still only 14.01 Mb/second.
Panama’s 36.55 Mb/second led the region and Honduras (139th regionally) was the slowest regionally at only 5.93 Mb/second.
The CIS region is composed of former USSR countries and none of the 11 included cracked the top 50 globally for broadband speeds. Only four made it into the top 100, Russia (64th globally), Belarus (86th globally), Ukraine (92nd globally), and Georgia (100th globally).
Russia’s 24.98 Mb/second was the fastest in the region, reflecting their higher concentration of major urban centers compared to other countries in the region. The slowest broadband speeds were a crawling 0.74 Mb/second in Turkmenistan (219th globally), highlighting the wide range in infrastructure across the region.
The Eastern Europe region includes 16 countries. As with several other regions, there is a big gap between country speeds, with six making the top 50 and the slowest ranking only 109th globally.
Hungary (10th globally) topped the region with 99.74 MB/second while North Macedonia (109th globally) had just over a tenth of that speed at 11.48 MB/second.
The Near East region is a study in have and have not when it comes to broadband speed. The region includes both fast countries in the top third of the global community and countries in the bottom ten.
The UAE (United Arab Emirates) clocked in at 28.33 Mb/second (56th globally) with Israel close behind with 26.49 Mb/second (60th globally). Yemen, however, is ranked 220th globally with a broadband speed rated at 0.65 Mb/second.
Regionally, Northern Africa is the slowest averaging global region with only a 3.8 Mb/second average. Each of the six countries included in the region for MLab’s broadband study placed in the bottom 100 countries.
Morocco (134th globally) posted the fastest speed for the region at 6.55 Mb/second while Mauritania (210th globally) showed the slowest speed at 1.47 Mb/second.
The North America region, with an average speed of 49.29 Mb/second, included five countries and all placed in the top half globally. With a speed of 73.60 Mb/second, Bermuda (17th globally) edged out the United States’ 71.30 Mb/second (20th globally) for the top regional spot.
Greenland (76th globally) finished out the bottom of the region at a respectable 18.65 Mb/second.
The Oceania region includes 13 countries, mostly in the bottom half of the rankings. However, New Zealand (23rd globally) with a 66.65 Mb/second speed and Australia (62nd globally) with a speed of 25.65 Mb/second brings up the average of the region to 12.59 Mb/second.
But, despite the regional average, 9 of the 12 are below 10 Mb/second and Vanuatu is at the bottom with only 2.22 Mb/second and a global rank of 197 out of 221.
The South America region manages an average speed of only 9.65 Mb/second due to the number of countries ranking near the bottom of the list. Uruguay (69th globally) comes in first in the region with 22.16 Mb/second and Venezuela (207th globally) is the regional slowest at only 1.61 Mb/second.
Sub-Saharan Africa is one of the largest regions, including 48 countries. A whopping 45 of those were in the bottom half of global broadband speed rankings. Madagascar (77th globally) managed the highest score for the region with a speed of 18 Mb/second.
The region’s slowest, South Sudan (221st globally), was also the global slowest speed at 0.58 Mb/second. Equatorial Guinea (218th globally), Ethiopia (214th globally), Somalia (213th globally), and Sudan (212th globally) all came in the bottom ten countries globally as well.
Western Europe is made up of 29 countries and includes eight out of the top 10 global fastest broadband speeds. All of them ranked in the top half globally and the regional average was a blazing fast 81.19 Mb/second.
Liechtenstein at 229.98 Mb/second, Jersey at 218.37 Mb/second, and Andorra at 213.42 Mb/second took the top three spots in the world for the region. The Faroe Islands (90th globally) was the slowest in the region with a still respectable 15.47 Mb/second.
Countries with the fastest speeds and most widespread broadband use generally have strong urban business development or tourist demand. Smaller countries often score higher due to less infrastructure needed while larger countries must spend far more to cover more square miles. Countries struggling with modern infrastructure or reliant on farming or mining tend to place less priority on broadband development.
Unfortunately, this divide builds on itself and those countries without strong broadband are left further and further behind when compared to more developed countries. Limited or no broadband leaves countries out of the global online marketplace and further restricts funds available for new infrastructure. And the cycle continues.