IPv6 usage is climbing in Europe, while Asian countries are most ready for 4K TV, says study

Belgium is unexpected contender for most IPv6-friendly country, but no surprise that South Korea and Japan are most ready for 4K video

Belgium is leading the world in IPv6 adoption, while South Korea and Japan are most ready for 4K video streaming, according to a report.

That Japan and South Korea should be preparing for the arrival of 4K video is no surprise, given that they are home to some of the world's largest TV and flat-panel display makers.

But Belgium, a leader in the use of the new addressing system that potentially allows every person and device on the planet to have their own unique IP address? Yes, says Akamai Technologies in its State of the Internet report for the first quarter of 2014.

The report, a grab-bag of statistics about Internet traffic volumes and technology adoption, is based on traffic passing through the company's global content delivery network (CDN).

In Belgium, IPv6 accounted for 14 percent of requests for Akamai-hosted sites supporting both IPv4 and IPv6, almost three times the percentage observed last quarter. Akamai attributed the increase to deployment of new IPv6 capacity by Belgian ISP Telenet. Around 24 percent of CDN requests from Telenet subscribers now come over IPv6, as do 24 percent from another Belgian ISP, Brutele, Akamai said. Only the operators Kabel Deutschland, in Germany, and Verizon Wireless, in the U.S., carried a greater proportion of IPv6 traffic, it said.

Switzerland was the next biggest user of IPv6, at 9.3 percent of traffic, unchanged from the previous quarter, followed by Germany, Luxembourg and Romania, all around 7.5 percent.

The U.S. was in sixth place with 6.2 percent of Internet traffic running over IPv6, but after that the proportion of IPv6 traffic dropped off rapidly. Norway vaulted into ninth place with a 56 percent quarter-on-quarter growth in IPv6 usage -- but from a very low base: Just 2.5 percent of Internet traffic there is now IPv6.

While the take-up of the latest protocols for routing and addressing traffic is low, technologies for carrying traffic faster are proving more popular.

Worldwide, the average Internet connection speed rose 24 percent year on year to 3.9Mbps, while the average of the peak connection speeds seen on Akamai's CDN grew more slowly, at 13 percent year on year, to 21.2Mbps. This narrowing of the difference between average and peak speeds suggests that demand is flattening throughout the day and that operators are doing a better job of managing contention on their networks.

As a measure of how many subscribers in a country are benefitting from fast Internet connections, Akamai introduced a new measure into its latest State of the Internet report: 4K readiness. Given that 4K video streams consume between 10Mbps and 20Mbps, Akamai assumed that Internet users with connections over 15Mbps are "4K ready". It calculated that 60 percent of South Korean subscribers would be able to stream 4K video -- no surprise given the country's average connection speed of 23.6Mbps -- and 32 percent of subscribers in Japan, where the average connection speed is 14.6Mbps, closely followed by Hong Kong, with 23 percent and 13.3Mbps. The index only takes into account streaming speeds, not the availability of 4K content or 4K displays.

European countries filled out the rest of the top 10s for connection speed and 4K readiness but Belgium, for all its prowess in IPv6 deployment, didn't make the top 10 for either measure.

Neither, though, did the U.S., which will have to wait for Google to extend its rollout of 1Gbps fiber beyond Kansas City and Provo, Utah.

Peter Sayer covers open source software, European intellectual property legislation and general technology breaking news for IDG News Service. Send comments and news tips to Peter at peter_sayer@idg.com.

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