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Web Around the World: Whose Internet’s The Fastest?

Imagine the fastest man in the world — Jamaican Olympian runner Usain Bolt — with one of the fastest mobile devices — the Blackberry Q10 — matched with the fastest Internet speed [1]…which would be where exactly?

While Bolt’s homeland has helped Cuba, the country with the lowest online connectivity rates in the Western Hemisphere, connect to its faster fiber-optic cable network, other places around the world are surfing online with lightning bolt speed.

A “quick” look at the top places in the world for fastest Internet connection shows Mr. Bolt would have to sprint outside the realm of the United Kingdom. The U.K. just misses out in the top 10 in a Bloomberg report, ranking 12th worldwide.

The top 10, according to Flanders Today, includes:

1) South Korea, 13.7 megabits per second
2) Hong Kong, 9.4 Mbps
3) Japan, 8.3 Mbps
4) Romania 7.0 Mbps
5) Netherlands, 7.0 Mbps
6) Latvia, 5.9 Mbps
7) Czech Republic, 5.7 Mbps
8 ) Switzerland, 5.6 Mbps
9) Belgium, 5.5 Mbps
10) Canada, 5.5 Mbps

By 2018, the U.K. is expected to increase its Internet abilities by between 80 and 300 times, according to International Business Times. With its progression from copper wire to more advanced (and expensive) fiber optics networks, the U.K. is quite optimistic for the future, especially with growing statistics of mobile usage. Seventy-nine percent of the U.K. have at least one type of Internet-capable device, and 16 percent of U.K. households have three or more. Virus protection [2] is also becoming more essential, as around a quarter of U.K. citizens have experienced a computer virus, according to Ofcom’s 2013 adults’ media use and attitudes report.

Although the U.K. improved its Internet speed 53 percent since last year (now at 36.3 Mbps), it’s still a bronze medal contender at best, compared to South Korea.

Bolt would be right at home in South Korea [3], where 95 percent of homes have broadband Internet access, which ranks number one in the world. In the country’s densely populated areas, there are a bevy of high-rise apartments that create exceptional Internet connectivity — one reason why South Koreans enjoy lightning-fast Internet. Homes in the U.K. and the U.S. tend to be less vertical. Thus, it creates a bigger challenge to hit each household with a strong Internet connection.

In April, Japan introduced the world’s fastest Internet speeds with the Sony Nuro Fiber service, which boasts a Usain Bolt-eye-raising data speed rate of 2 gigabits per second. It is a highly competitive country in the technology industry, but it also works just as hard for the Japanese value of social harmony.

If you happen to be talking on your mobile when boarding a Japanese bus, good luck, because most likely, you won’t be allowed on until you’re off your mobile. Japan’s culture delicately balances the perks of great Internet accessibility and gadgets with the respect of not being a nuisance to other fellow countrymen.

~ Bobby Sledge