Two years ago, considering the blocksize debate, I made two attempts to measure average bandwidth growth, first using Akamai serving numbers (which gave an answer of 17% per year), and then using fixed-line broadband data from OFCOM UK, which gave an answer of 30% per annum.
We have two years more of data since then, so let's take another look.
OFCOM (UK) Fixed Broadband Data
First, the OFCOM data:
- Average download speed in November 2008 was 3.6Mbit
- Average download speed in November 2014 was 22.8Mbit
- Average download speed in November 2016 was 36.2Mbit
- Average upload speed in November 2008 to April 2009 was 0.43Mbit/s
- Average upload speed in November 2014 was 2.9Mbit
- Average upload speed in November 2016 was 4.3Mbit
So in the last two years, we've seen 26% increase in download speed, and 22% increase in upload, bringing us down from 36/37% to 33% over the 8 years. The divergence of download and upload improvements is concerning (I previously assumed they were the same, but we have to design for the lesser of the two for a peer-to-peer system).
The idea that upload speed may be topping out is reflected in the Nov-2016 report, which notes only an 8% upload increase in services advertised as "30Mbit" or above.
Akamai's State Of The Internet Reports
- Annual global average speed in Q1 2015 - Q1 2016: 23%
- Annual global average speed in Q1 2016 - Q1 2017: 15%
This gives an estimate of 19% per annum in the last two years. Reassuringly, the US and UK (both fairly high-bandwidth countries, considered in my previous post to be a good estimate for the future of other countries) have increased by 26% and 19% in the last two years, indicating there's no immediate ceiling to bandwidth.
You can play with the numbers for different geographies on the Akamai site.
Conclusion: 19% Is A Conservative Estimate
17% growth now seems a little pessimistic: in the last 9 years the US Akamai numbers suggest the US has increased by 19% per annum, the UK by almost 21%. The gloss seems to be coming off the UK fixed-broadband numbers, but they're still 22% upload increase for the last two years. Even Australia and the Philippines have managed almost 21%.