The global average internet connection speed increased 23 percent to 5.6 Mbps in the quarter ended December 2015 compared to the same period of 2014, a report said on Wednesday.
The report “Fourth Quarter, 2015, State of the Internet Report” was released by Akamai Technologies, a global leader in content delivery network services.
“From a global perspective, the average connection speed increased 8.6 percent quarter-over-quarter (QoQ) and 23 percent year-over-year (YoY) to 5.6 Mbps, while the global average peak connection speed increased 1 percent QoQ, and increased 21 percent YoY to 32.5 Mbps,” it said.
South Korea had the highest average connection speed in Asia-Pacific region at 26.7 Mbps, while India had the lowest at 2.8 Mbps.
“This quarter’s (October to December 2015) report shows great YoY growth in average connection speeds and overall broadband adoption,” said David Belson, editor of the report.
South Korea (95.3 Mbps) and Macao (83.1 Mbps) were the only countries/regions to post double-digit quarterly gains in average peak connection speed at 10 percent and 13 percent, respectively.
“This is particularly important as consumer expectations rise and many high-profile events, like the summer games in Rio, will be streamed this year.
“The progress we are seeing across our key metrics shows that, while there’s still work to be done, more parts of the world are increasingly able to support the delivery of broadcast-quality video content online,” he added.
The report also showed each of the top 10 countries/regions saw double-digit growth in 25 Mbps broadband adoption except Hong Kong, which posted a 9.8 percent change quarter-over-quarter. Norway and Denmark saw the greatest yearly gains, the report cited.
On a global basis, close to 70 percent of the countries/regions saw a QoQ increase in unique IPv4 address counts in the last three months of 2015, up 10 percent from the July-September period of 2015.
The report also pointed out that 43 countries/regions saw IPv4 address counts grow 10 percent or more in the quarter ended December 2015 while 13 saw counts decline 10 percent or more compared with the July-September quarter of 2015.
The report also showed Britain had the fastest average mobile connection speed at 26.8 Mbps with Spain in second place at 14 Mbps. Iran had the lowest average connection speed, at 1.3 Mbps, followed by Vietnam with an average connection speed of 1.8 Mbps.
When Neha Maldar testified against the traffickers who enslaved her as a sex worker in India, she spoke from the safety of her own country, Bangladesh, via videoconferencing, a technology that could revolutionize the pursuit of justice in such cases.
The men in the western city of Mumbai appeared via video link more than 2,000 km (1,243 miles) west of Maldar as she sat in a government office in Jessore, a major regional hub for sex trafficking, 50 km from Bangladesh’s border with India.
“I saw the people who had trafficked me on the screen and I wasn’t scared to identify them,” Maldar, who now runs a beauty parlor from her home near Jessore, told Reuters. “I was determined to see them behind bars.”
“I told them how I was beaten for refusing to work in the brothel in the beginning and how the money I made was taken away,” she said, adding that she had lied to Indian authorities about her situation after being rescued, out of fear.
Thousands of people from Bangladesh and Nepal — mainly poor, rural women
and children — are lured to India each year by traffickers who promise good jobs but sell them into prostitution or domestic servitude, anti-slavery activists say.
Activists hope the safe, convenient technology could boost convictions. A Bangladeshi sex trafficker was jailed for the first time in 2016 on the strength of a victim’s testimony to a court in Mumbai via video link from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital.
Convictions for cross-border trafficking in the region are rare as most victims choose not to pursue cases that have traditionally required them to testify in Indian courts, which meant staying in a shelter for the duration of the trial.
“They have always wanted to go back home, to their families,” said Shiny Padiyara, a legal counsel at the Indian charity Rescue Foundation that has facilitated videoconferencing cases and runs shelters for trafficking victims. “And most never return to testify.”
But videoconferencing is making it easier to pursue justice. Survivors have given statements, identified their traffickers, and been cross examined in at least 10 other ongoing international cases in Bangladesh, advocates said.
“Enabling victims to testify via video conference will lead to a possible decrease in acquittal rates for want of prime witnesses,” said Adrian Phillips of Justice and Care, a charity that supports the use of video testimony to help secure justice.
Even then, it is tough. During Maldar’s three-hour deposition, she withstood a tough cross-examination, showed identity documents to prove her age and countered allegations by the defense lawyer that she was lying about her identity.
Tara Khokon Miya is preparing her 27-year-old daughter to testify against the men who trafficked her to India from Dhaka, where she had been working in a garment factory.
“I almost lost my daughter forever,” she said, sitting in her home in Magura, less than 50 km from Jessore, describing how she disappeared after work and was taken to a brothel in India, and raped and beaten for almost a year before being rescued.
“What the traffickers did to my daughter was unpardonable,” Miya said, wiping her tears. “We seek justice. I nurtured her in my womb and can’t describe what it felt like to not know about her whereabouts.”
The trial has been ongoing since 2013 when the young woman, who declined to be named, was repatriated. The charity Rights Jessore is helping the family through the process, by providing counseling and rehearsing cross-examination.
“The best thing is her father will be by her side when she talks in court,” Miya said, finally breaking into a smile.
India signed a bilateral agreement with Bangladesh in 2015 to ensure faster trafficking investigations and prosecutions, and with Nepal in 2017, and laid down basic procedures to encourage the use of videoconferencing in court proceedings.
“The procedure is very transparent,” said judge K M Mamun Uzzaman at Jessore courthouse, which often converts its conference hall into a courtroom for videoconferencing cases to protect survivors’ privacy.
“I’m usually present and victims are able to testify confidently … it is easy and cost effective for us,” he said. “But the biggest beneficiaries are the survivors.”
Videoconferencing in Bangladesh has been plagued by technical glitches such as power cuts and poor connections.
“Sometimes the internet connection is weak or it gets disconnected during the testimony,” said Binoy Krishna Mallick head of Rights Jessore, a pioneer in using this technology to encourage trafficking survivors to pursue justice. “But these are just teething troubles.”
The bigger challenge, activists say, is to ensure survivors remain committed to the trial despite delays caused by a backlog of cases and witnesses’ failure to appear to testify.
Swati Chauhan, one of the first judges to experiment with video testimony in 2010, is convinced that technology can eliminate many of these hurdles.
“Victims go through a lot of trauma, so it is natural that they don’t want to confront their trafficker in a court — but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the trafficker to be punished,” she said. “A videoconference requires meticulous planning and it is not easy coordinating between departments and countries. But it is the future for many seeking justice.” (VOA)