The State of the Internet in 2016

March 9, 2017 by Mario Korf

Every quarter Akamai does a State of the Internet report and shares information about online connectivity, cybersecurity trends, internet connection speeds, broadband adoption, mobile usage, outages, cyberattacks, and web security threats. Not to brag too much, but with over 2 trillion internet interactions, we're in a unique position to gather and report on this data.

You're encouraged to burrow into the 2106 Q4 report yourself, but I'll break down the high points for you.


Connectivity is all about speed, measured in megabytes per second (Mbps). The higher the number, the faster the connection. Here are some very rough benchmarks to to measure against.

Speed Connection Download a Song Stream a Video
1 Mbps 3G 40 seconds OMG frustrating
4 Mbps 3G burst, slow 4G 5 seconds Meh
10 Mbps 4G LTE 1.5 seconds TV quality
15 Mpbs Broadband < 1 second High def
25 Mpbs Good broadband Instant 4k please!

If you look at the global top-10 chart from Q4, the first thing that pops out is the global average is 7.0 megabytes per second; that's not too shabby for web browsing, but streaming a video will be difficult at times.

Another nugget: the United States doesn't figure into the top 10, but that's because some states are slower than others. For example, New York (20.7 Mbps) would make the top-10 list, but Idaho (11.9 Mbps) lags behind.

Fun Tools

I got the state-by-state data by inspecting the geographic regions. The two visual tools on this page allow you to be your own investigator.

The first tool allows you to select different geographical regions. In this case I've selected the United States and then California to see the exact number (btw, it would barely make the top-10 list).

The second tool allows you to see trends over time. You can select different regions, dates, and connection types and compare them. You might think about these things when traveling, or when releasing a product for different geos.




One of the largest security concerns is Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Briefly, DDoS attacks are a whole bunch of infected devices spamming a single website. The infection often comes via a Trojan, which controls the machines and is used to coordinate the attack. The end result is too many concurrent requests and the site clogs down, resulting in a Denial of Service (DoS) for everyone.

These days the chink in the DDoS armor continues to be Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This is not only because of the proliferation of connected things, but some looseness on the side of manufacturers, and the ability to abuse APIs that weren't designed robustly.

Another interesting tidbit you'll get from the report is where most of the DDoS attacks come from, which is China typically, but in Q4 it was the US by a long shot.

Protecting against DDoS attacks is only one aspect of securing a business but, like every other aspect of security, it's changing constantly. DDoS attackers originally coordinated people, and then there were botnets of PCs, and then botnets of servers, and now botnets of IoT devices. At each point in the evolution of DDoS, the landscape permanently changed.

The good news is that there are significant reasons for companies to invest in security in the future. The bad news is that attackers are likely to find new devices to compromise and once again increase their capabilities. Given these two opposing forces, we expect wild fluctuations in the short term.

There's a lot more to say about security, and for more you'll want to visit our quarterly security reports page.

The Dark Web

2016 was a very active year for the dark web. The general offerings of the dark web markets shifted significantly, especially with new cryptocurrencies in use. A few high-profile hacker forums and underground marketplaces disappeared, with new ones popping up in their place. 2016 also saw new darknet-based privacy services unveiled in the forms of ISP and a VPN offerings.

We saw a huge shift in dark web market offerings this year, from a focus on illicit drugs to malware offerings, compromised credentials, personally identifiable information, medical records, financial services accounts, hacking tutorials, credit card numbers, and a glut of compromised digital accounts for a wide range of services. Single and bulk compromised account logins are readily available across the top five dark web markets, and the prices are falling as more enter the market.

To read more about what happened in the dark web, and look at predictions for next year, see the 2016 State of the Dark Web and download the full report.

For Detailed Information

I've only hit a few of the high points here, and I encourage you to bookmark our State of the Internet web page and check back at least quarterly for updates. When you navigate to each of the landing pages here, you'll see a lot of great content, including executive summaries and white papers. Some of this content is available for download only after you've filled out a form, but you only have to fill out the form once.

If you’ve looked at our State of the Internet reports before, you’ll notice some changes to the way we’ve done things. In this blog post, David Belson takes you into the whys and wherefores of these changes.