The internet speed you need depends entirely on what you intend to do over it, much like shopping for the right pair of shoes. While the average internet speed in some areas is sufficient for browsing the web, it can be lacking for gaming or business.
To comfortably browse the web, you need at least 1Mbps internet speed, which will allow you to load web pages, open up your email and watch videos without buffering. Faster bandwidths enable faster loading.
Gaming and live streaming require between 3Mbps to 15Mbps at least to allow a smooth, lag-free gaming session. Meanwhile, streaming films and TV shows requires 3Mbps for SD quality videos, and up to 25Mbps for a 4K video.
High-speed internet is also crucial for businesses, and while the bandwidth you need will depend on how you intend to use it, a slow internet connection could kill business productivity, resulting in missed opportunities. Even the simplest of HTML email messages comes packed with logos and images, and websites filled with photos, videos and high-resolution logos risk a super-slow load if the bandwidth can’t cope.
Video conferencing by necessity involves a two-way exchange of live moving images and is particularly demanding of bandwidth to avoid lag, freezes and drop-out. And companies increasingly relying on the cloud for access to data from any location adds a further strain.
The demand for ever-increasing speed has driven most internet service providers to constantly upgrade their plans. A new report by M-Lab, a research partnership between Google, Princeton and groups like New America’s Open Technology revealed that the global average internet speed increased by 23% from 2017 to 2018, currently clocking at 9.1 Mbps.
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But what countries have the fastest and the slowest average internet speed?
Countries with the fastest average internet speed
Mean internet speed: 60.39Mbps
Time to download a typical HD movie (5GB): 00:11:18
Currently, according to both M-Lab and SpeedTest, Singapore has the fastest internet speed on the planet, with an average fixed broadband download speed of 180.61Mbps and an average mobile download speed of 44.37Mbps. Singapore’s mean internet speed improved by 5.26Mbps since last year’s M-Lab report, when it also held the first place.
Mean internet speed: 46.00Mbps
Time to download a typical HD movie (5GB): 00:14:50
Sweden has the fastest internet out of the Nordic countries. It has a strong fixed broadband coverage even in rural areas and, unlike most of Western Europe, Sweden has a very well-developed fibre network. While Sweden’s fastest fixed broadband internet service provider reaches 250.16Mbps, Sweden’s fastest mobile internet offers a speed of 31.07Mpbs. Sweden has improved its mean internet speed from last year by 5.84Mbps.
Mean internet speed: 43.99Mbps
Time to download a typical HD movie (5GB): 00:15:31
Last year Denmark held the fourth place, but after improving internet speed by 10.45Mpbs, it climbed to third in this year’s report. Denmark’s fastest fixed broadband internet service provider can reach 582.70Mbps in downloads, while the fastest mobile internet can reach 45.36Mbps. According to the GSM Association, 98% of Denmark’s population has a 4G LTE connection.
Mean internet speed: 40.12Mbps
Time to download a typical HD movie (5GB): 00:17:01
Along with Sweden, Norway is leading Western Europe’s fibre network developments. The fastest fixed broadband internet service provider in the country can reach 157.05Mbps, while the fastest mobile internet provider can reach 37.45Mbps. Last year’s M-Lab’s report had Norway in seventh, but since then its average internet speed has improved by 10.99Mbps, overtaking the Netherlands and Latvia.
Mean internet speed: 38.60Mbps
Time to download a typical HD movie (5GB): 00:17:41
Romania has seen the biggest improvement out of the five countries with the fastest internet. Last year, Romania was in 18th place with an average internet speed of 21.33. Last month, average downloads over mobile internet reached 32.30Mbps, while downloads on fixed broadband reached 108.42Mbps.
Countries with the slowest internet speed
Mean internet speed: 0.31Mbps
Time to download a typical HD movie (5GB): 36:52:20
Yemen has the slowest internet on the planet and ranks at position 200 out of 200 countries M-Lab has examined for its report. The country’s average internet speed has slowed down from last year when it ranked at 189th place with a mean internet speed of 0.34Mbps.
2. East Timor
Mean internet speed: 0.49Mbps
Time to download a typical HD movie (5GB): 23:13:15
East Timor is a new entry to the report this year. Only 13.4% of the country’s population was connected to the internet in 2015, despite 94% being able to access mobile phone and internet services, suggesting the country does not have a great need for fast internet.
Mean internet speed: 0.56Mbps
Time to download a typical HD movie (5GB): 20:22:25
This relatively small country in Asia only has one internet provider, TurkmenTelecom. While the government welcomes new network provider applications, the process involves a lengthy government review and reportedly no new service providers applied for a licence since Turkmenistan implemented these regulations. Last year Turkmenistan’s mean internet speed was 1.40Mbps and ranked at 142, meaning it has slipped 56 places to the current ranking.
Mean internet speed: 0.60Mbps
Time to download a typical HD movie (5GB): 18:56:23
Last year, Somalia ranked 185th place with a mean internet speed of 0.62Mbps, but it was overtaken by 12 other countries this year. While internet bandwidth in Somalia is very limited, the country’s internet service providers have been able to provide much-improved services over the last few years, including the introduction of fibre-optic cables, ending its dependence on expensive satellite connectivity for internet access.
Mean internet speed: 0.65Mbps
Time to download a typical HD movie (5GB): 17:28:13
Guinea’s internet speed has slowed down since last year when the mean internet speed was 0.84Mbps and 21 countries have since overtaken it. However, as more of Guinea’s internet service providers are rolling out fibre-optic based data services, the internet speed in the country is poised to improve.