U.S. Internet connection speeds growing; Samsung jumps into IoT

In telecom news, an Akamai report shows Internet connection speeds in the U.S. are growing, while Samsung acquired a home automation software startup to compete in the growing IoT market.

This week in telecom news, Akamai's State of the Internet report shows average Internet connection speeds in the U.S. are growing. While some states' speeds are increasing faster than others, all 50 states are above the broadband threshold of 4 Mbps set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Meanwhile, Samsung acquired home automation startup SmartThings to enter the Internet of Things (IoT) market.

Australian telecom provider Telstra, expanded its partnership with Ericsson to support software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) efforts. The provider has been in talks with Ericsson since 2013 about using SDN in its network.

Akamai report shows growing U.S. Internet speeds

Average Internet connection speeds in the U.S. are growing, according to Akamai's State of the Internet report for the first quarter of 2014. On a year-over-year basis, the top 10 states in terms of connection speeds saw higher averages compared to Q1 2013.

The report found that connection speed increases ranged from 2.6% in Massachusetts to 13% in Michigan. Virginia was the only state among the top 10 that saw its average connection speeds decline, dropping 4.3% from Q4 2013, but it remained the state with the fastest connection speeds.

All 50 states were above the FCC's 4 Mbps threshold for broadband, and 26 states had average connection speeds above the 10 Mbps threshold for high broadband, according to the report.

The 10 states with the highest average connection speeds were: Virginia (13.7 Mbps), Delaware (13.1 Mbps), Massachusetts (13.1 Mbps), Rhode Island (12.9 Mpbs), The District of Columbia (12.8 Mbps), New Hampshire (12.3 Mbps), Utah (12.1 Mbps), Michigan (11.8 Mbps) and Connecticut (11.7 Mbps).

Vermont was the only state that saw a year-over-year decline in its average connection speeds. Akamai's State of the Internet report for Q2 2013 said the reason for this decline was due to a number of IP address blocks from a single network provider shifting from a nearby state into Vermont. The average connection speed associated with this provider was low enough to pull down Vermont's average and knock it out of the top 10.

Alaska had the lowest average connection speeds, despite a quarterly increase of 7.8% and a yearly increase of 33% to 7 Mbps.

Samsung jumps into IoT with SmartThings purchase

Samsung is making its foray into IoT by acquiring the home automation startup SmartThings. With this move, SmartThings hopes to support smartphone vendors that are often sold through wireless operators.

SmartThings supplies home automation controllers that focus on connecting home appliances like lights and locks to mobile apps through an open source platform. Re/code reported that Samsung purchased the company for $200 million.

SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson said SmartThings will operate independently from Samsung, but its operations will move to Palo Alto, Calif., to join Samsung's Open Innovation Center, which focuses on software and services innovation.

"… Joining forces with Samsung will enable us to expand so we can support all of the leading smartphone vendors, devices and applications; expand our base of developers and enhance the tools and programs that they rely on; and help many more people around the world to easily control and monitor their homes using SmartThings," he wrote in a blog.

Samsung is joining the growing home automation market, which has seen large tech companies acquiring startups. Most notably, Google acquired smart thermostat maker Nest Labs for $3.2 billion earlier this year.

Hawkinson said Samsung's acquisition will help SmartThings realize its long-term vision. He said the startup has supported more than 1,000 mobile devices and that 8,000 applications have been created for its platform.

Telstra boosts Ericsson relationship to further SDN, NFV

Australia's leading telecom provider has expanded its agreement with Ericsson to supply next-generation optical network equipment and services that provide a foundation for SDN and NFV, Ericsson announced this week.

Ericsson has an existing agreement that makes Ciena its preferred partner for packet-optical platforms. Telstra is one of the first customers basing its vendor decisions on the Ericsson/Ciena partnership.

Telstra's Director of Transport and Routing Engineering David Robertson said in a release that the Ericsson agreement will help ensure a consistent customer experience. Telstra has been in talks with Ericsson since 2013 about using SDN services in its network, and its contract for optical transport and services includes the possibility of deploying SDN and NFV functionality. -- Kate Gerwig

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