Global Internet Traffic Surprises

From the perspective of the E-Commerce director at many of the largest global e-tailers, the Web is the great equalizer, allowing for entry into foreign markets with a minimal amount of reprogramming and language/currency changes. But the Internet isn't really all that equal, at least as far as Internet access speeds are concerned. And given that these speeds dictate how far E-Commerce can—and should—go, those are important numbers.

That's why new figures from Pingdom (based on raw data released by Akamai) offer an intriguing roadmap for global Web players. The countries with the fastest speeds are concentrated in Asia, which isn't surprising, but the specific order is, with South Korea blowing all other countries away. These are also all actual connection speeds, as opposed to what ISPs are marketing.

South Korea's number one slot was earned with an average connection speed of 16.63 Mbit/second, which almost doubled the second place winner (Hong Kong) at 8.57 Mbit/second. Japan came in third at 8.03 Mbits/second.

Many of the rest of the top are a series of unlikely winners: Romania at 6.8; the Netherlands at 6.5; Sweden at 5.5; Czech Republic at 5.32; Belgium at 5.26; Denmark at 5.18 and Switzerland at 5.08.

That was the Top Ten. It's not until slot 11 that North America makes an appearance, with Canada at 4.73, followed by the U.S. at 4.6. Going down the list gets us to Hungary at 4.45, Germany at 4.14, Taiwan at 4.08, Portugal at 3.93 and then, at slot 17, the U.K. at 3.93, followed by Austria at 3.76, France at 3.36, Israel at 3.29, Greece at 3.03, Italy at 3.0 and Poland at 2.93, which is slot 23.

Then comes Thailand at 2.9 and Australia at 2.86.

At the bottom of the list, we have the slowest ten: The Philippines at 0.9; China at 8.86; Kazakhstan at 0.85; Egypt at 0.83; India at 0.82; Pakistan at 0.72; Venezuela at 0.72; Indonesia at 0.5; Nigeria at 0.5; and the slowest slot going to Iran at 0.41.

One nice touch that Pingdom added in its report was noting the size of the country's Internet user population. This nicely illustrates some conflicts, such as that the fourth-largest population of Internet users (India) is almost at the very bottom of the speed list. The world's largest Internet population (China) didn't perform much better. And the world's second-largest Internet population (the U.S.) fared somewhat better, but not breaking the top ten is a sad statement.

On the flip side, Hong Kong commands the second-highest performance, with an Internet-using population size that ranks 49th. South Korea's impressive top slot exists, even though its Internet population doesn't quite break the Top Ten (it's 11).

This means that you should feel free to animate as much as you want for your South Korean prospects, while you might want to shrink the graphics when marketing to Australia.