China’s overall internet speeds for the third quarter have surpassed 15Mbits per second for both download and upload, mobile and fixed line broadband, celebrated as the “double double”, according to the “China Broadband Speed Report” from the country’s Broadband Development Alliance (in Chinese). Fixed line broadband speeds have increased for 11 consecutive quarters since the 2015 launch of the “Faster Speeds, Lower Costs” policy, meaning speeds are up 3.2x. Regional variations persist for both mobile and fixed line, with Shanghai still in the lead. China Mobile leads for broadband.

Government efforts are pushing fiber optics, better 4G coverage, more powerful servers and increased bandwidth for international traffic, according to the report.

Broadband speed has accelerated by 16.2% on the second quarter alone, adding an extra 2.29Mbit/s to reach an average of 16.40Mbit/s for downloads. Mobile broadband speeds for 4G have sped up by 14.5% on the last quarter to reach average download speeds of 15.4Mbit/s (5.68Mbit/s for 3G).

The average page now opens in 1.06 seconds and the average video download rate is now 12.40Mbit/s, up 20.6% on the previous quarter, as demand for online video also soars.

China’s main broadband suppliers for fixed and mobile are the mobile telecom majors. China Mobile’s fixed line broadband is fastest with an average download speed of 16.56Mbit/s, followed by China Unicom at 16.50Mbit/s and China Telecom slowest at 16.30Mbit/s.

As with many facets of life, Shanghai is also fastest for broadband, with an average download speed of 18.41Mbit/s followed by Beijing at 18.05 (the only two places to exceed 18Mbit/s) and then Liaoning at 17.44 and Shandong at 17.38. Upload speeds are surprising similar: Shanghai 18.41, Beijing 18.05, Jinan (Shandong) 17.67, Zhengzhou (Henan) 17.60.

Internationally, the speeds lag behind much of the rest of the world. Singapore tops the latest SpeedTest evaluation for fixed broadband at 148.62Mbit/s and Hong Kong second with 137.4. Many people in China have gone straight to mobile for their internet access, and their needs are being addressed, though mobile internet speeds still show regional variation for both 3G and 4G networks. The more developed eastern regions are fastest, with speeds slowing the further west you go (with the slight anomaly of central regions having the fastest 3G at 6.08Mbit/s, above the national average of 5.68 and the east’s 5.83).

Frank Hersey is a Beijing-based tech reporter who's been coming to China since 2001. He tries to go beyond the headlines to explain the context and impact of developments in China's tech sector. Get in...

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