Best and Worst Countries for Wi-Fi Access

Husain Sumra profile image July 21, 2020 | 5 min read

When you’re traveling, your internet access could change dramatically when you cross the border. You could go from having fast, widely-available Wi-Fi to a country that has slow Wi-Fi with only a few hotspots.

A country’s tech policies and internet infrastructure can vary dramatically, making it hard to know what the Wi-Fi is like until it’s too late.

So where in the world can you get the fastest internet connection?

Let’s look at the most recent data to see how each country stands on broadband, mobile speeds and the number of access points.

Countries with the best public Wi-Fi

When navigating the globe’s public Wi-Fi hotspots, high-speed internet with phone is not always easy to find. The top 20 countries for Wi-Fi are mostly in Europe, with Lithuania and Croatia leading the pack with the fastest download speeds.

best and worst countries for Wi-Fi access

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Top 20 countries for Wi-Fi and their connection speeds (all figures are in Mbps)

    • USA
      • Average download speeds: 6.89
      • Average upload speeds: 4.37
    • Canada
      • Average download speeds: 7.16
      • Average upload speeds: 3.32
    • Portugal
      • Average download speeds: 7.43
      • Average upload speeds: 2.55
    • Sweden
      • Average download speeds:7.9
      • Average upload speeds: 9.29
    • Germany
      • Average download speeds: 7.96
      • Average upload speeds: 2.95
    • Latvia
      • Average download speeds: 8.46
      • Average upload speeds: 8.33
    • Switzerland
      • Average download speeds: 8.67
      • Average upload speeds: 3.9
    • Finland
      • Average download speeds: 8.69
      • Average upload speeds: 6.09
    • Singapore
      • Average download speeds: 9.49
      • Average upload speeds: 5.41
    • Bulgaria
      • Average download speeds: 9.67
      • Average upload speeds: 6.31
    • Slovenia
      • Average download speeds: 9.72
      • Average upload speeds: 6.69
    • Belgium
      • Average download speeds: 10.07
      • Average upload speeds: 3.22
    • Hungary
      • Average download speeds: 10.37
      • Average upload speeds: 4.03
    • Denmark
      • Average download speeds: 10.52
      • Average upload speeds: 6.06
    • UK
      • Average download speeds: 10.97
      • Average upload speeds: 5.26
    • Romania
      • Average download speeds: 11.32
      • Average upload speeds: 7.31
    • Ireland
      • Average download speeds: 11.43
      • Average upload speeds: 5.2
    • Estonia
      • Average download speeds: 13.75
      • Average upload speeds: 12.04
    • Croatia
      • Average download speeds: 14.05
      • Average upload speeds: 11.21
    • Lithuania
      • Average download speeds: 15.4
      • Average upload speeds: 14.17

There are currently 454 million Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide. That’s 383 percent growth in four years.

However, these hotspots aren’t distributed equally. In some countries, the sparse number of hotspots means access is not readily available. Subsequently, each connection point could be overloaded with people, bogging down the speed that’s available for each device.

Other countries have a vastly different story with a strong saturation of hotspots compared to the population.

Number of people per hotspot for each country (lower number is better)

How do international mobile speeds compare to broadband?

Broadband access and mobile connectivity are two different types of infrastructure. Deployment in each country isn’t always even or consistent.

For example, some countries could have invested heavily in wireless so that cellular-based internet access is widely available. Conversely, other countries are more heavily invested in broadband wired internet access. In these countries, travelers can get the fastest connections by using broadband hotspots at hotels, cafes and other physical access points.

Let’s compare the connection speeds for broadband and mobile internet.

Average broadband speed by country

As of April 2020, the global average download speed is 74.74 Mbps, which includes residential and commercial access. However, there are vastly different levels of connectivity around the globe. For example, in Cuba, the average broadband connection speed is 2.95 Mbps. That’s about what was available in the U.S. more than a decade ago.

The fastest broadband connection speeds are in:

The slowest broadband connection speeds are in:

  • Yemen: 3.45
  • Algeria: 3.02
  • Cuba: 2.95
  • Venezuela: 2.85
  • Turkmenistan: 2.64

Mobile internet speeds by country

The global average download speed is 30.89 Mbps as of April 2020.

The fastest mobile connection speeds:

  • South Korea: 88.01
  • Qatar: 84.81
  • China: 84.68
  • UAE: 78.56
  • Netherlands: 75.32

The slowest mobile connection speeds:

  • Algeria: 8.25
  • Rwanda: 8.22
  • Sudan: 7.09
  • Venezuela: 6.07
  • Afghanistan: 6.02

As we look toward the future, mobile speeds are expected to change dramatically in the coming years as we see widespread deployment of 5G. In recent months, as COVID-19 has changed the way we connect, mobile speeds across the globe have increased by six percent between January and March.

How do U.S. internet speeds compare?

As the Brookings Institute explains, “The internet is no longer ‘nice to have.’ It’s a critical part of our personal and professional lives. This is not going to change.” In fact, as everything from doctors visits to chats with Grandpa shift online, connectivity is more important than ever.

One report found that in Q1 2020, median broadband data usage increased by 60 percent. That’s about twice as much as the previous four quarters.

Speed remains a critical factor in how well Americans can stay connected and the types of online activities they can reasonably pursue. Increasingly, backup internet service has become an important utility to help people stay connected even during outages.

The U.S. does not lead the world with the fastest internet speeds, but we’re closer to the top on broadband than we are with mobile.

  • For broadband access, the U.S. is 33 percent slower than the fastest country. While Singapore’s speeds are 198.46 Mbps, the U.S. is at 132.60 Mbps.
  • For mobile access, the U.S. is 51 percent slower than the fastest country. South Korea has speeds that are 88.01 Mbps, while the U.S. is at 42.7 Mbps.

Comparison of mobile speeds vs. broadband

The difference between mobile speeds and all internet speeds can vary significantly in some countries. In Australia, for example, the top speeds on mobile data average 62.15 Mbps, but the average broadband speeds are 41.99 Mbps. That means mobile speeds are 20.16 Mbps faster than all internet access speeds.

Another country that has a stark difference between mobile connectivity speeds and all internet access, but in the opposite direction, is Singapore. Its average broadband speeds are 198.46 Mbps, much higher than the mobile network speeds of 53.86 Mbps.

Fastest-Growing Internet Speeds

When we consider global internet access, speeds are only part of the story. Some countries are investing in rapid growth. In just three years, more than 350 percent speed growth has been achieved by Belize, Kuwait, Egypt, Uzbekistan and Costa Rica.

Top 10 internet speed increases (2017-2020)

  • Belize: 475%
  • Kuwait: 416%
  • Egypt: 394%
  • Uzbekistan: 381%
  • Costa Rica: 350%
  • United Arab Emirates: 346%
  • Thailand: 345%
  • Paraguay: 332%
  • Panama: 331%
  • Malaysia: 303%