Internet speed in Armenia continues to grow at a mind-blowing pace. A direct indicator of this comes from the statistics provided by YouTube, according to which average download speed of videos from Armenia has reached about 3.2 mbps in March 2012.
The average YouTube download speed last year was about 1.4 mbps, while in 2010 it was less than 0.8 mbps. Since YouTube is one of the top online destinations in Armenia (2nd only to Facebook by popularity according to Alexa), the data above is pretty much representative of general internet trends in Armenia. This means that internet speeds have been doubling every year since 2010.
Global internet speeds have been growing at a slower rate. According to YouTube data again, global average download speed grew by about 1 mbps to reach 5 mbps over the past 12 months. The average figure stood at 4 mbps in April 2011 and 3 mbps in February 2010. If the current dynamics persists, Armenia will catch up with the global average within the next year.
Meanwhile, the cost of internet has declined more than 120 times, while the broadband internet userbase has jumped from 20,000 in 2007 to 380,000 in 2011. This has created a completely new internet environment, which has already started to manifest itself as Armenia heads into Parliamentary elections slated for May 6th. Back in 2007 (also a year of Parliamentary elections), while there was an active online community on LiveJournal blogging platform, it had only a fraction of the influence that Facebook and YouTube users have these days.
It is certainly going to be very interesting to observe how the new internet reality is going to influence the political discourse in the country especially in the pre-election and post-election periods.
Meanwhile, my organization – Media Diversity Institute – Armenia, along with partners, such as Transparency International, has deployed an Ushahidi based platform for the monitoring of the upcoming elections already live at http://iditord.org address. More on that in later blog posts.