Akamai's Second Quarter, 2013 State of the Internet Report

By Peter Bernstein October 22, 2013

When inquiring minds want to know about what is going on regarding Internet traffic, the best thing to do is go to a source who has a comprehensive view of things based on their visibility into such matters. It is for this reason that when Akamai, who handles roughly 15-30 percent of global Internet traffic on its Akamai Intelligent Platform™, issues its quarterly “State of the Internet” reports, the industry listens.

The company is out with 2Q 3012 results which include data gathered from its platform which includes insights into key global statistics such as network connectivity and connection speeds, attack traffic, and broadband adoption and availability, and some other really interesting stats.  

Highlights from Akamai's Second Quarter, 2013 State of the Internet Report

There is good news and some bad news to report.

Global Average and Peak Connection Speeds: The good news is that global average peak connection speeds increased slightly during Q2 2013, up 0.1 percent to 18.9 Mbps. Among the top 10 countries/regions that saw higher average peak connection speeds, increases ranged from 3.1 percent in Japan (to 48.8 Mbps) to 22 percent in Taiwan (to 39.5 Mbps). Hong Kong remains number one at 65.1 Mbps, and South Korea crossed the 50 Mbps threshold, coming in second at 53.3 Mbps. Year-over-year, global average peak connection speeds showed solid growth, rising 17 percent with almost every country experiencing growth. Quarter-over-quarter, the global average connection speed rose 5.2 percent to 3.3 Mbps (up from 3.1 Mbps).  And, a total of 129 countries/regions that qualified for inclusion saw average connection speeds increase in the second quarter. 

The good news continued on the average connection speed front where year-over-year there was a 9.2 percent increase with almost every country and region pointing up. It is also encouraging that global high broadband (>10 Mbps) adoption rose to 14 percent thanks to a 13-percent quarter-over-quarter increase. Global broadband (>4 Mbps) improved 11 percent on the quarter, and Q2 2013 marked the first time that half of all connections to Akamai from around the world took place at speeds of at least 4 Mbps. 

Attack Traffic and Security:  As to the dark side, Akamai maintains a distributed set of unadvertised agents deployed across the Internet that log connection attempts, which the company classifies as attack traffic. Based on the data collected Akamai identifies the top countries from which attack traffic originates, as well as the top ports targeted by these attacks. As Akamai is careful to note, however, the originating country as identified by the source IP address may not represent the nation in which an attacker resides. For example, an individual in the United States may be launching attacks from compromised systems anywhere in the world. 

In Q2, Akamai observed attack traffic originating from 175 unique countries/regions. Indonesia pushed China out of the top spot this quarter, nearly doubling its first-quarter traffic from 21 percent to 38 percent, while China moved to second at 33 percent (down from 34 percent). The United States remained in third after dropping to 6.9 percent in the second quarter from 8.3 percent in the first quarter.  The top 10 countries/regions generated 89 percent of observed attacks, up from 82 percent in the previous quarter. 

image via shutterstock

It is hard to say whether this is good or bad news but for the first time since the report started in 2008, Port 445 (Microsoft-DS) was not the most targeted port for attacks. In fact, it dropped to third at 15 percent, behind Port 443 (SSL [HTTPS], 17 percent) and Port 80 (WWW [HTTP], 24 percent). Indonesia was the primary culprit (90 percent) of attacks targeting Ports 80 and 443. 

The report also looked at distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks based on Akamai customers. In the second quarter of 2013, Akakmai customers reported 318 attacks, a 54 percent increase over the 208 reported in the first quarter. Sectors reporting attacks were:

  • Enterprise (134)
  • Commerce (91)
  • Media & Entertainment (53)
  • High Tech (23)
  • Public Sector (17)

Also, a group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) claimed responsibility for several attacks against news and media companies during the second quarter of 2013. The attacks all employed similar spear-phishing tactics in which internal email accounts were compromised and leveraged to collect credentials to gain access to targets' Twitter feeds, RSS feeds and other sensitive information. 

Global Internet Penetration: More than 752 million unique IPv4 addresses from 242 unique countries/regions connected to the Akamai Intelligent Platform, a 2 percent quarter-over-quarter increase and 13 percent more than the second quarter of 2012. Since a single IP address can represent multiple individuals in some cases - such as when users access the Web through a firewall or proxy server - Akamai estimates the total number of unique Web users connecting to its platform during the quarter to be well over one billion. 

The global number of unique IP addresses seen by the Akamai Intelligent Platform grew by almost 19 million during the quarter, and by 13 percent - an increase of more than 87 million from the second quarter of 2012. Again virtually all of the top countries experienced robust growth with major percentage increases also occurring in the developing world.  

"The Second Quarter, 2013 State of the Internet Report notes some significant milestones and trends, including the fact that half of all connections to Akamai occurred at speeds of 4 Mbps or higher, a 25 percent increase since the first quarter of 2012," said David Belson, the report's editor. "We also saw a decline in the number of countries/regions with average connection speeds of 1 Mbps or less - down to 11 from 14 in the last quarter - likely indicative of improved broadband connectivity across some of the slowest geographies. These positive trends bode well for the continued increase and adoption of broadband connectivity around the world." 

Mobile Connectivity: During the second quarter of 2013, average connection speeds on surveyed mobile network operators ranged from a high of 9.7 Mbps to a low of 0.5 Mbps. Eleven operators demonstrated average connection speeds in the broadband (>4 Mbps) range, and 62 operators showed average connection speeds above 1 Mbps. Data collected by Ericsson shows that the volume of mobile data traffic grew 14 percent during the quarter and nearly doubled year-over-year. 

Based on data derived from Akamai IO for the second quarter of 2013, mobile devices on cellular networks using the Android Webkit accounted for slightly less than 38 percent of requests while Apple Mobile Safari saw nearly 34 percent of requests. In measuring mobile devices across all network types, Apple Mobile Safari accounted just more than 54 percent of usage while Android Webkit was responsible for 27.6 percent.

For those interested in granular country/regional figures Q2, they can be downloaded at: http://wwwns.akamai.com/soti/soti_q213_figures.zip

The need for speed is accentuated

The connected world as the device and IP address data shows confirms what is reflected in device sales information, i.e., the world there is every reason to believe that while the average number of devices we each have and/or are replacing is growing so too are the number of people being connected around the world. What is encouraging, particularly if you delve into the country and regional data, is the increase in peak and average connection speeds.

The disparity between countries can be stark in some instances. This includes not just comparisons between developed economies and under-developed ones, but also in comparing developed v. developed. Without going into the details let’s just say there are some surprises. What is encouraging is the recognition of the need for speed to connect the exploding population of devices. And, while it may have wide variations, the good news is that the trend is directionally correct and that is good news for use as consumers and for the industry, as well.

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