12% Of World’s Broadband Links Are ‘4K-Ready'

4K streaming services remain in short supply, but the number of homes around the globe that can support those streams are on the rise, according to Akamai’s latest quarterly State of the Internet Report.

Noting that adaptive bit rate 4K streaming generally requires about 15 Mbps of sustained connectivity, Akamai found in its report (for the third quarter of 2014) that 12% of connections to Akamai around the world were considered “4K-ready.” Year-over-year, global 4K-readiness climbed 32%, Akamai said.

Akamai found that South Korea was most prepared for 4K streaming, with two-thirds (66%) of its connections to Akamai at or above 15 Mbps, followed by Hong Kong (37%), Japan (33%), Switzerland (30%), Netherlands (29%), Latvia (29%), Sweden (29%), Norway (21%), Singapore (21%), and Belgium (21%).

In the Americas, 19% of Akamai connections in the U.S. were delivering 15 Mbps during the period tested, down 2.3% quarter-over-quarter, and 14% in Canada, down 15%. In Akamai’s report for the first quarter of 2014, about 17% of the U.S. was prepared to deliver 4K via broadband, versus 13% for Canada.

Viewed through Akamai’s lens, Delaware was the most 4K-ready U.S. state, with 39% of connections offering 15 Mbps or more, followed by Connecticut (31%), Massachusetts (29%), Washington (27%) and Washington, D.C., New Jersey and Rhode Island (26%).

Akamai’s reports continue to focus on 4K streaming as new services emerge. Among U.S. MVPDs, DirecTV and Comcast have introduced relatively small 4K streaming offerings. Dish Network outlined its initial 4K plans at last week’s International CES, noting that its new 4K Joey will be capable of streaming in 4K but will initially obtain 4K content via satellite for playback on the new device, which will support HEVC and HDMI 2.0. Netflix and M-GO have also launched 4K streaming offerings, with M-GO unveiling a 4K download service last week.

Overall, global average connection speeds for Q3 2014 dropped 2.8%, to 4.5 Mbps, but remained above 4 Mbps for the second consecutive quarter, Akamai said

South Korea topped all countries in that category, with an average speed of 25.3 Mbps, followed by Hong Kong (16.3 Mbps), Japan (15 Mbps), Switzerland (14.5 Mbps), Sweden (14.1 Mbps), Netherlands (14 Mbps), Ireland (13.9 Mbps), Latvia (13.4 Mbps), Czech Republic (12.3 Mbps); and Singapore (12.2 Mbps).  Those levels were high enough to keep the U.S. (11.5 Mbps) and Canada (10.3 Mbps) out of the top ten.

Among individual U.S. states, Delaware had the highest average connection speed (17.4 Mbps), up 37% from the year-ago quarter, trailed by Washington (16.3 Mbps), Connecticut (15.3 Mbps), Utah (14.8 Mbps), Washington, DC (14.6 Mbps), Virginia (14.5 Mbps), Massachusetts (14.4 Mbps), Rhode Island (13.5 Mbps), Michigan (12.7 Mbps) and New Jersey (12.5 Mbps).