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Internet Freedom, Security & Privacy, Technology

Where is the fastest Internet — and why?

Does your Internet speed matter to you? It can be a problem if you experience poor service or, worse, no service. If you have to use a mobile to get coverage or visit a café, you might wonder who can help you get better service. And you might also be curious to find out why some places have better or even astounding Internet speeds.

This article will unpack where the best Internet is and give tips about how you can check on, and improve, your connection speed. You might wish to track down your regional provider as a personal user or improve page load times on your busy website. Whatever your issue, there’s something for everyone. 

illustration of global underwater cables

Which country has the fastest Internet speeds?

Let’s start here. If you have great service, you probably live in one of these locations.

The world’s fastest broadband Internet speed is enjoyed in Singapore, with a rate of 242 megabits per second, more than twice the global average. By contrast, U.S. residents average 171 mbits/s and Canada 156.94 mbits/s. The difference is mainly down to size and investment, with Singapore located in a densely populated small area, having invested billions since 2010 in the latest fiber-optic broadband. 

Those lucky residents of gambling and gaming capital Monaco make it into 3rd place for similar reasons. People who live within the borders of banking and finance centers like Switzerland (in 4th place) benefit from fast speeds, too — necessary to those economies. Here, political will leads to high-tech investment.

Andorra (placed 7th) covers a tiny area between Spain and France, and in 2018, completed a renovation of its fiber-optic network and, you guessed it, download speeds shot up. While most of rural France (8th) did not have high-speed Internet, France is most of the way through a fiber-optic upgrade to 80% of their existing network and aiming for 100% coverage.

Further down the list, the U.S. (in 10th place) and Canadian providers (16th – not shown) have more land to cover, but this is not the only reason Internet speeds are slower. At present, millions of U.S. citizens have no, or poor, coverage. This pulls down the figure for average download speeds for the country. 

To combat this, America’s President Biden wants to achieve 100% broadband or universal coverage, and plans are afoot to invest $100 billion in Internet infrastructure to service tribal and rural areas. Disenfranchised communities are part of the investment plans because addressing the digital divide will help the economy and make access more equitable across the country. 

The U.K didn’t feature in the top 20, coming in at 47th with download Mbit/s speeds around 82.84. This is largely due to the slow rollout of fiber-optic cable by major Internet Service Provider Openreach (British Telecom). The replacement of old copper cabling has allowed cities and busy towns to get a speed boost, leaving less populated areas and counties far behind.

Here’s a table breaking down the speeds of the top ten countries:


Rank
Country/Territory
Broadband
Average download speed (Mbits/s)
(Speedtest.net)
1Singapore242.17
2Thailand211.10
3Monaco203.15
4Switzerland194.16
5Denmark193.23
6Romania186.06
7Andorra180.10
8France179.05
9Hungary172.10
10United States171.01

You may not have expected to see Romania at number 6, but this is the result of ‘people power.’ A curious combination of technology-educated graduates and the lack of services in the 1990s led to a huge demand for Internet services. But major ISPs didn’t invest in providing high speeds. So people built their own networks and cable systems, and some went as far as hanging cables on trees and hacking into public telephone poles. Today, ISPs invest heavily in Romania. Hungary, coming in 9th, also developed its fast Internet service through a combination of people power and intense competition.

One country to watch is Japan (further down at number 20). We may see its ranking improve post-2021. A recent Internet technology project produced Internet transfer speeds of 319 Terabits per second using rare earth minerals, new fiber-optic technology, and fancy lasers. Researchers proved such speeds would allow you to download a video game instantly. (Here’s hoping Japan’s innovation gets taken up by ISPs everywhere).

speed test on mobile

Mobile Internet speeds

There are some differences in rankings for mobile Internet speeds. Canada claims the top spot, and its provision is largely due to economic factors. Three privately owned, hugely successful communications networks prove efficient cooperation can result in top service. South Korea has a large gaming industry and enjoys high investment, enjoying the number two spot.

Recent investment by the European Union into mobile is clearly paying dividends as many European countries feature in the top 20. In fact, Europe collectively has the highest world Internet broadband and mobile speeds. Apart from Canada and Australia, the top mobile countries are smaller in size, so the investment required to provide complete coverage is less. 

RankCountry/TerritoryMobile Average connection
speed (Mbit/s)
1Canada59.6
2South Korea59.0
3Netherlands54.8
4Japan49.3
5Norway48.8
6Singapore47.5
7Australia43.0
8Switzerland42.8
9Belgium37.6
10Croatia36.6
25United States26.7
36United Kingdom22.9

In contrast, the US (ranked 25th) and UK (36th) are behind in rolling out 4G and 5G. Many big telecoms companies merged and changed hands in 2020 in both nations, possibly delaying upgrade projects. When you also consider political changes in the US (and Brexit in the UK) — there’s been a lot in the way of simply getting on with rolling out fiber and high-speed mobile. Hopefully, provision will improve as major projects move forwards and economic and political factors settle down, and as both governments aim to ‘build back better.’

In the U.S? You can find out the current state of play with 5G in your state according to Open Signal’s 5G 2021 report.

Why content speeds can differ

Within countries, another factor can deliberately influence your connection speeds. With regulations on ISPs, you can expect that every website and service you visit has the same speed and quality when you browse the Internet at home.

However, suppose you take away those regulations. This can lead to throttling, in which providers intentionally slow speeds for certain services, In many locations with unregulated Internet, there is absolutely nothing to stop providers from slowing connection speeds down and then charging you a premium to watch or download certain content (often from competitors) with any sort of quality. Meanwhile, their favored partners can broadcast to you efficiently and quickly. 

The importance of net neutrality

Net neutrality is the principle that speed and quality should be the same everywhere, and that Internet providers should not be allowed to make decisions on what you can or can’t view on the Internet.

Namecheap supports net neutrality as part of our company values. We believe that everyone should have equal access to content on the Internet and that ISPs should not dictate what anyone can see.  To find out more about the issues discussed:

ISP workarounds

Are you having trouble accessing content? To ensure you can enjoy content anywhere you live (and protect your browsing privacy), a VPN can help. Namecheap has launched Fast VPN for faster VPN speeds and access to 1000 servers in 50+ locations worldwide.

If you debate which Internet browser makes a difference to content, you could try the new IPFS protocol and the Brave browser. Brave’s disruptive technology might improve your Internet browsing speed, too. 

Hedgehog doctor diagnosing speed of computer

Check your speed

If you live in a town or city, you’ll have more choices about which provider you can choose. It’s worth checking on your current service using a free Internet Speed tool:

Once you know what is possible speed-wise, it’s easier to compare providers and packages. If you switch providers, you can check speeds again. And remember you can also check if a VPN or alternate browser service gives you faster content.

Speed matters to your customers

How frustrating is it when pages load slowly on the Internet? What hampers speed is not our devices and how new they are but — as discovered here — how well information travels around a vast, shared infrastructure and how good our provision is. 

A key takeaway is that you can help improve page speeds for your customers. Try a content delivery network so your website takes less time to reach them, no matter where they live. Take a look at Namecheap’s Supersonic CDN which boosts page loading times — even on the busiest of websites.

Do you have experience with different Internet speeds where you live? Are you happy with your service? Or perhaps have a good tip to share with others? Leave a comment below.

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Lisa McKnight avatar

Lisa McKnight

As a digital technology copywriter, I'm passionate about communicating how vital the information industry is and how stuff works. If it's complicated I believe it can also be engaging. With 10 years of copywriting in B2B and B2C marketing, technology is rocking my world. More articles written by Lisa.

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