UAE leads GCC in internet speed...

But has less than half the speed of global average

A study released on Monday revealed the speed and reliability of Internet connections around the globe with some surprising findings.

The UAE led the GCC with the fastest speeds, but every Gulf country, including the leader UAE, were placed in the second lowest out of nine bands.

Based on 27 million downloads by 20m computers in 224 countries from January through June 2011, the Pando Networks study provides a comprehensive look at worldwide data accessibility, singling out the very best and the very worst places to link up with the web.

The UAE led the GCC with a download speed of 269KBps, followed by Qatar (239KBps), Saudi Arabia (216KBps), Kuwait (213KBps), Bahrain (203KBps) and Oman (148KBps).

On the other side of the Gulf, Iran was placed in the lowest band of 0-99KBps list with a speed of 74KBps. Iraq had 104KBps. India had a speed of 184KBps and Pakistan of 148KBps.

Gulf Internet speeds are far less than the average worldwide download speed of 580KBps. In fact, leader UAE's speed was less than half the world average - in fact, it was just over 46 per cent.

South Korea led the list with a blazingly fast average speed of 2,202KBps.

But the surprise was the small eastern European nations of Romania (1,909KBps) and Bulgaria (1,611KBps), which unexpectedly claimed the second and third highest speeds. In fact, eastern European nations dominated the top of the list with Lithuania in fourth at 1,462KBps, Latvia in fifth at 1,377KBps and Ukraine in eighth at 1,190KBps.

The completion rate for measured downloads closely correlates with average speed, South Korea again taking top prize with a 94 per cent completion rate and most of the other speedy countries not far behind.

The other end of the list is fairly unsurprising; developing nations in Africa and Asia trail far behind the speeds of those with more mature economies. The Congo has the absolute slowest average speed at 13KBps, followed closely by the Central African Republic at 14KBps and Comoros at 23KBps.

The US only slightly ahead of the pack with an average speed of 616KBps. Other notable countries studied include Germany at 647KBps, Australia at 348KBps, and China at 245KBps.

The study goes on to break down the data to the city level, the fastest six of which are, unsurprisingly, located in South Korea. Andover, MA (2,801KBps) and Bucharest, Romania (2,665KBps) are the only cities outside of gaming heavyweight South Korea to break into the top 10.

The slowest measured city was Algiers, Algeria at 56KBps followed by Itapema, Brazil at 61KBps and Santa Cruz, Bolivia at 62KBps.

Average download speeds also vary based by ISP, and choosing the correct one could be the difference between speedy downloads and frustrating wait times. In the United States, Verizon Internet Services provides the fastest service, averaging 1,056KBps due to their widespread FIOS network. In Great Britain, Virgin Media is the fastest choice with average speeds of 612KBps while Dacom Corp. takes the top spot in speedy South Korea with an average of 5,151KBps.

"The disparities we found were striking. While, in general, developed economies outpaced the developing world in average download speeds, big names such as the US, UK, France, China and Canada were not even close to being the fastest. Instead, we saw high speeds in markets such as Eastern Europe where focus on infrastructural development and favorable geography promote a higher level of connectivity,” said Robert Levitan, CEO of Pando Networks.

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