x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

UAE has region's fastest internet

The UAE has the fastest broadband speeds in the Middle East, with the average connection clocking in at 3.9Mbps.

The average internet connection in the UAE clocks in at 3.92 megabits per second. Randi Sokoloff / The National
The average internet connection in the UAE clocks in at 3.92 megabits per second. Randi Sokoloff / The National

The UAE has the speediest broadband service of all Middle Eastern countries, according to a survey by a technology firm based in the US.

The average internet connection in the UAE clocks in at 3.92 megabits per second (Mbps), more than double the rate of most countries in the region. A rate of 2Mbps is enough to carry VHS-standard video streams.

Telecommunications providers Etisalat and du have both introduced improved broadband packages in recent years.

Etisalat now offers an internet service, priced at Dh699 (US$190.30) per month, with a claimed speed of 30Mbps.

The internet-speed figures, which apply to the first three months of this year, were compiled by the internet specialist Akamai Technologies as part of its quarterly state of the internet report.

"Countries like the UAE have seen a strong increase over the last three years," said David Belson, the editor of the report. "Average peak connection speeds in most countries appear to have improved over the last three years as well."

The Akamai survey was based on data gathered from the Akamai internet platform, which carries between 15 and 30 per cent of the world's internet traffic.

South East Asian countries dominate the rankings of the speediest internet connections.

South Korea has the fastest internet provision in the world, with the average standing at 14.4Mbps. Hong Kong and Japan are second and third, respectively.

In the Middle East, Israel has the region's second-fastest broadband service, with an average speed of 3.65Mbps, followed by Saudi Arabia at 2.04Mbps.

However, the Middle East region as a whole has relatively poor internet provision, with the average speed across the entire region standing at just 1.63Mbps, well below the global average of 2.1Mbps.

Lebanon - where the average internet speed is just 0.3Mbps - Libya, Iran and Syria, are among the countries with the slowest internet connections.

Average speeds in these countries actually declined in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period last year.

That was partly due to the temporary shutdowns of internet services imposed by some governments during the recent uprisings in parts of the region, Akamai said.

"I suspect that internet connectivity can, and will, be affected by government manipulation of internet access," said Mr Belson. "We saw that in Egypt and Libya in the first quarter, and Syria in the second quarter."

However, internet connections in the region should improve, Akamai forecasts.

"With the continued deployment of submarine cables around Africa, more outbound bandwidth will become available to many of these countries, which could potentially result in higher speeds. However … it's not clear how much better internet connectivity will get," said Mr Belson.

bflanagan@thenational.ae