Singapore tops global speed index for broadband links

Singapore is now the world's fastest broadband nation, according to a global speed index watched closely by many international authorities and Internet service providers (ISPs).

The US-based Ookla's Net Index - started in 2008 - shows that Internet users in Singapore have had the fastest broadband links, of around 104 Mbps, since December last year.

Singapore edged out Hong Kong - which held the position for 19 consecutive months - to claim the top spot.

Since then, Hong Kong with its download speed of around 95 Mbps has been in second position, followed by South Korea (80 Mbps) and Japan (67 Mbps).

Ookla is best known for its online tools that help consumers to test the actual speed of their broadband connections against that advertised by their ISPs.

Its Net Index, which ranks the 10 fastest broadband countries every month, is also used to help nations rate themselves against one another. It is compiled based on consumer-initiated speed tests done using Ookla's online tools.

Its methodology differs from that of the commonly cited findings of US-based Akamai Technologies, which ranked Singapore 10th for having an average connection speed of 12.2 Mbps in the third quarter of last year.

Akamai tracks how fast users reach popular websites distributed by its servers around the world. Ookla, on the other hand, measures the speed of consumers' links to its speed test servers installed worldwide.

To be on its Net Index, countries must not only have fast broadband links, they must also have at least 100,000 unique user computers doing independent tests.

The results are captured daily and published on Ookla's website.

Industry regulator Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore said it monitors the reports of Ookla and Akamai to gauge Singapore's "broadband speed competitiveness".

Singapore has come a long way since 2008 when broadband speeds hovered at 10 Mbps or less.

The turning point was in October 2010, when the nation launched its ultra-fast fibre broadband network offering surfing speeds of up to 100 times at 1 Gbps. Two years later, Singapore broke into the Net Index with speeds of more than 20 Mbps.

But senior analyst Clement Teo of US-based market research firm Forrester said high speed may not automatically translate into a great user experience, such as smooth video streaming.

"The latter is dependent on many factors, including how many hops - or how far - the data travels to reach the user," he said.

itham@sph.com.sg