IPv6 Traffic and Global Internet Connection Speeds on the Rise

Content Delivery Network vendor Akamai this week released its third quarter State of the Internet report, once again showing a steady rise in Internet broadband speeds.

This time around, Akamai also decided to include more visibility then ever before into IPv6 trends. IPv6 usage is still small in comparison to IPv4, though that is widely expected to change over the next decade.

The free pool of available IPv4 addresses from IANA dried up in February of 2011. That event meant that the Regional Internet Registries (RIR) for each global geography could no longer get blocks of IPv4 address space. Many RIRs, particularly ARIN (American Registry of Internet Numbers), still have some IPv4 space left from pools previously allocated from IANA. As the Internet of Things era dawns, however, primary addressing will likely be IPv6. It’s a trend that Akamai is already seeing.

In the U.S. during the third quarter of 2013, 4.2 percent of all traffic seen by Akamai came in over IPv6. The U.S ranks fifth in the world for IPv6 traffic, behind Luxembourg (4.9 percent), France (5.0 percent), Switzerland (7.0 percent) and Romania (7.3 percent).

Digging a little deeper, some network service providers have larger IPv6 traffic numbers than others. During the third quarter of 2013, 51 percent of Google Fiber and 39 percent of Verizon Wireless traffic came in over IPv6. The Akamai report noted that Google Fiber is largely a new deployment and, as such, the IPv6 penetration is not surprising. In the case of Verizon Wireless, Verizon has publicly stated that devices connected over LTE will first attempt to connect over IPv6.

Other U.S carriers do not yet have the same double-digit level of IPv6 traffic. 8.2 percent of AT&T’s traffic and 6.9 percent of Comcast’s traffic came into Akamai over IPv6. Time Warner Cable also has some IPv6 users, though they only represented 1.8 percent of all traffic that Akamai saw.

Connection Speeds

Regardless of the IP addressing protocol used, the overall speed of connections on the Internet rose during the third quarter of 2013.

Akamai reported that the global average connection speed to its platform came in at 3.6 Mbps which is a 29 percent year-over-year gain. As has been the case ever since Akamai first began drafting its State of the Internet reports, South Korea tops the list, this time with an average connection speed of 22.1 Mbps. The U.S ranks eighth now, coming at 9.8 Mbps for a 31 percent year-over-year gain.

The global average peak speed, which represents the fastest speeds seen by Akamai globally, also grew during the quarter. The global average peak connection speed now stands at 17.9 Mbps for a 13 percent year-over-year increase.

Akamai also measures what it refers to as High Broadband adoption, defined as connections coming in at speeds of 10 Mbps or higher. Globally during the third quarter, 19 percent of all connections to Akamai were 10 Mbps or higher, a 69 percent year-over-year gain.

In the U.S., 34 percent of connections were considered high broadband, an 82 percent improvement over the third quarter of 2012.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at Enterprise Networking Planet and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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