Which Countries Have The Fastest Internet In The World in 2020?
How fast is your internet? How fast would it be if you lived in a different country? The web is, of course, worldwide – but internet speeds vary significantly by country. Where is the internet the fastest? Where is it slowest?
Whether you’re a digital nomad looking for your next destination or simply someone interested in comparing the speeds at home to the rest of the world, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a closer look at the countries with the fastest internet in the world:
In this article you will find out...
- Global Internet Speeds: An Overview
- 1. Singapore
- 2. Sweden
- 3. Denmark
- 4. Norway
- 5. Romania
- 6. Belgium
- 7. The Netherlands
- 8. Luxembourg
- 9. Hungary
- 10. Switzerland
- A Closer Look at Internet Speed by Region
- Explaining Outliers
- Are Countries Excluded from the Tests?
- How are Average Internet Rankings Determined?
- In Conclusion
Global Internet Speeds: An Overview
Generally, internet speeds are increasing worldwide. The average speed in 2018 was 9.10 Mbps, which is 1.7 Mbps higher than 2017’s average speed of 7.40 Mbps. That’s a 23% increase in average global internet speed.
However, an increase in global speeds doesn’t mean the internet is getting faster for everybody equally. Small, developed nations are far more likely to have fast internet speeds compared to large, developing nations.
Once the infrastructure is already in place throughout the country, new technology can be added without much of a problem, leading to faster speeds.
The increase in average internet speeds worldwide is mainly due to increased speeds in countries which already had fast internet. Developing nations continue to struggle with improving internet speed and availability.
The top five countries have internet download speeds which are 88 times the speed of the five slowest countries.
The Top 10 Countries with the Fastest Internet Speeds
Here’s a closer look at each:
An island city-state in Southeast Asia, Singapore is a popular destination for tourists from around the world. It’s known for beautiful landmarks, historical religious sites, unique architecture, and world-class shopping.
It’s also known as the home of the fastest internet in the world. They top the list with speeds of 148.62 Mbps. Interestingly, even though Singapore won this year, they never hit their high of 156.67 Mbps, which was recorded in 2017.
Singapore is a great example of how geography and culture play a huge role in developing broadband infrastructure. Singapore is relatively small with a densely packed population. Plus, the economy is heavily reliant on digital services. The entire city-state not only has the political will to develop fast internet, but the landscape of the region doesn’t significantly stand in their way.
An appearance by any Nordic country should be no surprise. Sweden shows up at number two on the list with an average internet speed of 9960.69 KBps starting in 2007. Although speeds in Sweden haven’t increased by much in recent years, they continue to hold strong with reliably fast internet for most of the country.
Over half of all Danish homes and businesses have fiber internet. It takes about 15 minutes to download 5 GB. The current mean download speed is 43.99 Mbps. By committing to country-wide fiber internet, Denmark is setting themselves up for success both now and in the future.
Fiber internet is accessible to over 40% of the population. By contrast, that number is 25% in the U.S. As you can see, Nordic countries excel at building fiber optic infrastructure, which is why they continue to place in the top year after year.
Romania is often a surprising choice for most folks reading through internet speed rankings for the first time. It’s frequently stereotyped as a backward country with a lack of technological sophistication. But Romania is a modern country with 19.59 million people (roughly equal to the population of New York State).
With an average speed of 97.70 Mbps, Romania’s internet is faster than most European countries and the U.S. However, they do fall pretty short on mobile speeds, which average about 30.19 Mbps download and 11.70 Mbps upload.
This Western European country has a population of 11.42 million – and many of them enjoy fast internet speeds. A five GB file takes 18:38 minutes to download. Their mean average download speed is 36.71 Mbps.
7. The Netherlands
The Dutch government has prioritized high-quality internet for many years now, which explains why The Netherlands consistently ranks in the top ten on most speed rankings. In 2018, the country’s average speed was 87.04 Mbps, marking a significant step up from their 2017 speed of 71.95. Expect even more improvement in the future.
Why does the country need to be big if its internet is blazing fast? Tests show a mean download speed of 35.41 Mbps. That’s spread across 3,667 distinct IPs, which does reflect the country’s small area of 998.61 square miles.
Hungary shows up near the bottom of the top 10 with an average speed of 76.99 Mbps. Last year was the Central European country’s first appearance in the top 10. Previously, they’ve been 13th, 12th and 11th.
In 2012, about 72% of the country’s population was online. However, internet access has increased substantially. Today almost 80% of the population has high-speed internet coverage.
As one of the world’s richest countries, it’s probably no surprise Switzerland has zippy internet speeds. In 2018, they averaged 77.24 Mbps. However, in May of last year, internet speeds shot up to 85.04 Mbps for a brief period, only to fall back to the high 70s.
The high speeds are enjoyed by a vast majority of Swiss citizens, too. In 2012, 85% of the country’s population was online regularly. The percentage of internet users has only grown since then, increasing to roughly 95% today.
A Closer Look at Internet Speed by Region
There’s no single source of internet rankings. A variety of different organizations rank countries by internet speed each year. However, the same countries generally appear across most rankings, even if their position might vary from list to list.
Of the top 50 countries with the fastest internet speeds:
- 36 are located in Europe
- Nine are located in Asia
- Two are North America
- Two are in South America
- One is in Africa
Europe is the clear winner globally with the fastest consistent internet speeds and the world’s highest concentration of countries with broadband internet. Plus, not only does most of Europe have broadband, but they have speeds which lead the rest of the world.
Of the 53 countries in the European region, 52 of them are ranked within the top 100. Only Armenia falls a bit short with an average speed of 3.94 Mbps. Within European countries, Sweden is the fastest with an average speed of 46 Mbps.
However, there’s likely a looming issue in the U.K. They were ranked 35th this year, and might not be able to catch up to their neighbors anytime soon. The EU countries with fast speeds have already spent years developing fiber networks. But the U.K. hasn’t. They’ll need a commitment to expanding their fiber network if they want to catch up.
A vast region consisting of 41 countries, internet speeds in Asia swing wildly from place to place. The region is home to Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea and other places with blazing fast internet.
But some of the slowest speeds in the world can also be found here in East Timor, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan.
Year after year, Hong Kong ranks consistently high on internet speed lists. Their internet speeds reached 137.40 Mbps during testing. Unfortunately, Hong Kong is currently in the midst of massive political turmoil. While they’re unlikely to drop significantly in speed rankings anytime soon, their ability to maintain top speeds over a long period is unknown.
South Korea consistently ranks high on any internet speed lists. In 2018, their internet speed averaged 108.89 Mbps. They did hit 126.72 Mbps in August of last year, which almost pushed them into third place.
South Korea’s internet is fast for two reasons. It’s a relatively small, first-world country. Plus, the culture has a big focus on competitive gaming. South Korean teams are typically some of the best online gamers in the world, and a commitment to fast internet helps give them an edge in training and competition.
Located in Southern China, Macau is a 12.7 square mile region packed with over 650,000 people. Nicknamed the “Las Vegas of Asia,” Macau is a major tourist destination for people from all over China and the surrounding countries.
Although encompassing a large area geographically, the North American region consists of just three countries for speed testing purposes:
- United States
America offers a huge sample size. Over 89 millions speed tests were measured from 15 million distinct IPs.
With an average speed of 25.86 Mbps, the U.S. is the fastest in the region. Bermuda is the slowest at 19.48Mbps.
Like many large countries, the U.S. spans both urban and rural areas. Most internet in the suburbs and cities is broadband at least, while many areas have access to fiber optic internet.
However, many rural areas have no broadband internet. While DSL can often provide high-speed internet, it can be unreliable.
South American internet isn’t the best in the world, but it’s not the worst, either. Barbados is the fastest with an average speed of 17.08Mbps, while Venezuela is the slowest at 1.24Mbps (of course, Venezuela is experiencing major problems in all areas).
Latin American countries tend to comfortably rest in the middle of most speed rankings, with no country from the region in either the top or bottom 20.
Although certain areas in the region are among the wealthiest in the world, the Arab states as a group generally have slow internet.
The fastest of the bunch is Bahrain with 5.05Mbps. Every other country is below the 5Mbps mark (although UAE and Jordan are close).
Yemen, found in this region, has the dubious distinction of the world’s slowest internet. It’s 0.31Mbps, and that’s actually 0.04Mbps slower than last year.
Never experienced 0.31Mbps internet? Downloading a 5GB files takes 36 hours, 52 minutes, and 20 seconds.
If you had to choose between Yemen and most of Africa, you’re probably better off with Yemen. Africa doesn’t have much cable-based internet coverage at all. It’s lagging (no pun intended) significantly behind the rest of the world in terms of broadband. Most countries in Africa rely on wireless connectivity such as WiMAX, 3G, and 4G.
However, many large urban centers in Madagascar are supplied by underwater EASSy cables which provide fiber-optic service. The average speed in Madagascar is 24.87Mbps. But Madagascar is an exception to the speeds found in most other African nations. Seven out of the 38 have speeds under 1Mbps.
When looking at lists of speed rankings, you’ll likely notice some countries which seem a bit out of place. For example, the Norwegian island pairing of Svalbard and Jan Mayen frequently cracks the top 10 on many rankings.
With an average speed of 36.5 Mbps, it’s not exactly the worst internet in the world, but it’s far from the best. So why does it show up on so many lists?
Basically, because it’s small and consistent. The two islands have a single unique IP address. So, everybody who uses the internet in that location gets the same consistent speed. The average internet speed becomes technically higher than the average for larger countries with more diverse internet access. The same phenomenon occurs in The Vatican, Antarctica and other “non-traditional” locations.
Are Countries Excluded from the Tests?
A lack of digital infrastructure disqualified the following countries from most speed tests: Bhutan, Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Greenland, Eritrea, North Korea, Lesotho, Solomon Islands, Somalia, and South Sudan.
How are Average Internet Rankings Determined?
Many large organizations collect information on broadband speed data.
The FCC’s Measuring Broadband America is an on-going effort to measure the reach and speed of internet services across the entire country. Netflix also has a robust program to measure internet speeds around the world. The BBC publishes an annual report as well.
Organizations use different methodologies, sample sizes, user populations, and other variations. For example, Akamai only ranks countries with 25,000 unique IP addresses. Doing so eliminates the issue discussed above, where tiny locations with a single IP address rank high.
There’s no single 100% correct way to find the fastest internet in the world. Each of the major rankings reveals important information about worldwide internet speed and access, even if the position of each country might vary somewhat between lists.
Speed Tests Explained
Speed tests don’t measure the maximum speed available for the router in your house. Instead, they measure the speed available to a device (a laptop, phone, etc.) connected to the router.
Speeds through wifi are almost always slower than LAN cable connections. Most speed tests measure wifi speeds to reflect real world conditions for the average user accurately. Keep in mind you might be able to get higher than average speeds for your area by switching to a LAN connection.
Here are some features commonly considered when ranking countries:
Average Connection Speed
This is determined by averaging all connection speeds. Usually, speeds are measured for three months. All unique IPv4 addresses are counted within the country, region, or state.
While that certainly doesn’t sound easy, there are a few factors which further complicate measurements:
The average web page requests content 94 times. For example, a browser will try to access the base page, embedded images, CSS files, ads, and more. Each request is logged individually, which lowers the average speed recorded.
Small files affect speed measurements, but not in the way you may think. Downloading quick files often doesn’t allow speeds to reach their fastest rate. Similar to a car, the rate must work up to proverbial fifth gear to reach the fastest speeds.
Internet speeds are improving, but not in a uniform way. When measured proportionally, the top 100 countries have increased their average speed by 29.04%. But the bottom 100 have only increased their broadband speed by 24.22%.
As you examine the extremes, the difference becomes even more substantial. The top 25 countries grew by 28.88% while the bottom 25 grew only 7.40%.
Forty-five percent of all internet growth occurred in the top 25 countries, while the bottom 25 are responsible for 0.19% of all growth, which isn’t statistically significant from zero.
Countries able to increase internet speed, access and reliability see a myriad of improvements both economically and often socially.