The world’s best and worst internet connections: Statistics every international trader should know
If you’re a business trading internationally, then you need to know the internet speeds your teams have access to. Whether it’s for the purposes of collaboration within your team, or external-facing interactions with customers and clients, the speed of the internet that your international teams work with can affect how you do business.
Understanding internet speed
The first thing you need to know in understanding the internet speeds available to your teams is to understand what internet speed itself means. Basically, internet speed refers to the amount of bandwidth that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) allocates to you. If you have a 5Mbps connection, that means your ISP is allowing you to access up to five megabits of data per second. If you have a 100Mbps connection, you’ll get access to 100 megabits per second.
Furthermore, internet connections have two numbers – a download speed, followed by an upload speed, listed as download/upload. So for example, 25/5 means that you have a download speed of 25Mbps, and an upload speed of 5Mbps.
Across the world, the available speeds can vary hugely from one country to another. This is largely driven by infrastructure – poor internet infrastructure means that ISPs are unable to access fast bandwidth cheaply to sell on to their customers. As such, it should come as no surprise that emerging countries tend to have slower internet speeds. The lowest internet speeds are found predominantly in Africa, where Australian trade is limited. However, if you do have an international operation, then there’s every chance you do trade with China, Thailand or Malaysia, and all three of these countries are low on the ranking of overall internet speeds. Businesses that operate out of Australia – which has a higher overall internet speed ranking – need to take that into account when dealing with those markets.
How to maximise the internet speeds you access while travelling
The good news is that there are things you can do to maximise the internet speeds that you have access too, even when travelling to regions where the internet is slower.
1. Make use of Ethernet connections where possible.
In areas where the internet speed is slower, wireless connections can be too low a speed to be effectively used for work. This is particularly true in busy areas, such as hotels, where traffic saturation can overload the wireless infrastructure. However, in most cases, Ethernet (or wired) internet availability will be faster and more reliable.
2. Keep applications to a minimum.
Running the likes of Dropbox, Evernote, Skype, and other applications in the background will continue to consume bandwidth through the automatic link they have to the internet. This can compromise the download speed for the applications that you’re actively trying to use. When in an area that has less internet infrastructure than what you’re used to, you’ll need to adjust the way you work on your computer.
3. Check for malware.
A good reason to have a powerful antivirus on your computer is because malware, in addition to the security risks posed to your data and technology, can actually slow down your internet. Malware is generally poorly-optimised software, and will chew up a lot of bandwidth running itself on your computer.
4. Learn how to work offline.
As mentioned above, when in an area that has less-than-ideal internet speeds, you’ll need to find ways to change your working habits. One is to re-learn how to work offline. Download the documents that you need to work on while in an area with better internet (such as a hotel), for use when out and about. Similarly, download the required CRM notes and attachments from emails that you might need before leaving the hotel for the day.
5. Find low-bandwidth applications to use.
Not every browser is built equal. For PC use, Opera is a very lightweight option that will free up whatever limited bandwidth you have for other online activities. Also consider installing Ad Block Plus, which will prevent any advertisements from being displayed on your computer. It’s not something that website publishers like people using, but by the same token, all those ads and graphics contribute to the amount of bandwidth needed to load up a website.
Think about the person at the other end of the call
Finally, it’s important to remember who you’re working with when online. For any kind of collaborative process, you’re only going to be able to work as fast as your slowest internet connection. You might be able to run a high-quality video stream for a video conference, but if the person on the other end can’t, then it’s going to compromise the quality of the call. Consider whether you can run a meeting using just voice communication or – better yet – a dial-in phone conference.