India internet speeds lowest in Asia-Pacific, broadband penetration at 3%

As gaming moves rapidly towards digital distribution and online platforms, the availability of high-speed internet has become essential, but a new report suggests India’s broadband infrastructure hasn’t been able to keep pace with the rest of the region.

Akamai’s latest ‘State of the Internet’ report has found India in tenth place in the list of countries with the most Internet connections; a growth of 4.9% over the previous quarter, and 32% year-on-year. Of the other countries in the top ten, only Brazil has seen more robust growth, at 11% and 52% respectively.

Look at global and regional internet connection speeds, however, and it makes for dismal reading from an Indian perspective.

The global average connection speed grew in the third quarter of 2013 by 10% to 3.6 Mbps, but the average speed in India is less than half that – just 1.4 Mbps.

Akamai serves around 30% of global internet traffic. If you’ve ever shopped online, streamed music, watched a web video, or connected to work remotely, you’ve probably used Akamai’s cloud platform. And to put things into perspective, Akamai only recognises connections of over 4 Mbps as ‘broadband’.

Despite the average connection speed in India growing 11% over the previous quarter, it is still the lowest average speed in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region (see image).

South Korea leads with an average connection speed of 22.1 Mbps, followed by Japan and Hong Kong with 13.3 Mbps and 12.5 Mbps respectively.

India also finds itself on the bottom of the APAC list for peak connection speeds. At 9 Mbps, it actually saw a 15% drop over the previous quarter, but grew 12% year on year.

While broadband (minimum 4 Mbps) penetration in India almost doubled (95%) over the previous year, overall penetration is still just 3%.

Gaming across all platforms – mobile, PC and console – is moving rapidly towards digital distribution and relying more and more on constant internet connectivity, and the Akamai report shows that India’s poor broadband infrastructure could be the biggest bottleneck to the growth of gaming in India.

With mobile apps (especially games) growing in size to hundreds of MBs, and console and PC games regularly exceeding 5 GB and 10 GB, India’s internet connections are ill-equipped to support the demands of modern-day gaming. Then there’s the high latency of Indian broadband to contend with, which adversely affects the online multiplayer gaming experience.

Add to that the high broadband tariffs and the strict FUPs (fair usage policy) enforced by Indian ISPs, and it makes digital distribution and online gaming an expensive, laborious, and ultimately unfavourable option for the foreseeable future.

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