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US remains global sluggard in broadband speed rankings

'We're number 9! We're number 9!'

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Akamai's latest State or the Internet report shows that the US is making little headway in becoming a top-ranked broadband nation, and is being outpaced by Asia and Europe based on traffic analysis from the first quarter of the year.

The US ranked ninth in average measured connection speed which, while a 27 per cent increase, still leaves America well behind "socialist" states such as Sweden (the fastest connection speed riser) and the Czech Republic. For overall network speed, South Korea is still the top dog (no food pun intended), although other nations are catching up.

David Belson, editor of the report, told The Register that US network providers are increasing their investment in upping speeds, but that in many places there is limited competition for customers. One provider would offer 10Mb at $50 and the other 11Mb for $49, he said, and the result is that consumers face poor choices.

"Competitive pressures in the system will influence the available speed and the affordability of those speeds," Belson said. "It depends where you are; in some cities there is stronger competition than others. Google certainly creates some pressure in the system with Google Fiber, but right now limited deployment will limit the impact it has."

Within the US it pays to be an Easterner, with New Hampshire, Delaware, Rhode Island, and Vermont registering the fastest speeds and feeds. Surprisingly, California didn't even make it into the top 10 states for broadband speeds.

One area in which the US is thankfully falling behind is the amount of malicious traffic coming from its systems. The surprise front-runner in Akamai's report was Indonesia, which saw a 30x increase in malicious traffic in the first quarter of the year, rising from 0.7 per cent of attack traffic in the final quarter of 2012 to 21 per cent in 2013.

Belson said that this was most likely because of a specific set of malware released in the country that's designed to spam itself out for botnet creation. China, still in the top spot for attack code, cut its bad traffic down to 34 per cent, with the US coming in third at 8.3 per cent, down from 10 per cent.

The number of distributed denial of service attacks worldwide rose by 4 per cent, with Akamai logging 208 such attacks. The bulk of these were against enterprise and commercial targets, with media companies the next most popular target.

Most worryingly, Belson said that there are still pockets of malware out there trying to scan firewall ports that should have been fixed years ago. He said there were still pockets of the Conficker worm that first surfaced four years ago which are trying to spread, despite the fact that the vulnerabilities it exploits have long been patched.

"This is down to poor computer hygiene and improperly patched systems," he said. "I can't say for certain, but my feeling is these come largely from consumer PCs." ®

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