BEIJING, April 18 (Xinhua) -- The average Internet connection speed in China stood at 3.14 megabytes per second (MBps) during the first quarter of this year, according to survey results released Thursday.
Shanghai topped the list with an average connection speed of 4.7 MBps, followed by Jiangsu, Beijing, Fujian and Tianjin, according to a report compiled by Qihoo 360 Technology Co., an Internet security service provider.
Based on data provided by ChinaCache International Holdings Ltd., a Nasdaq-listed Internet service provider, the average connection speed in China, a country that is home to 564 million Internet users, reached about 2.59 MBps in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Meanwhile, speeds varied by region. Connection speeds in 20 of the country's 34 provinces and municipalities, including regions in the northwest, southwest and northeast, were slower than the national average, according to the Qihoo 360 report.
Connection speeds in nearly 60 percent of provincial capital cities were faster than that of other areas in the provinces.
The fastest average connection speeds occurred between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m., while the slowest speeds were recorded between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m.
Connection speeds were fastest on Tuesdays and slowest on Saturdays, on average.
According to the most recent Akamai State of the Internet report, a quarterly international Internet traffic report, the global average broadband speed dropped 6.8 percent to 2.8 MBps during the third quarter of 2012.
At the national level, the Republic of Korea had the highest speed, at 14.7 MBps. At 54.1 MBps, Hong Kong recorded the highest average peak connection speed.
To narrow the "digital gap," the Chinese government has pledged to upgrade infrastructure to allow more areas -- notably, impoverished rural regions -- access to faster Internet services.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said in its annual plan that it will build 180,000 base stations this year to provide 3G mobile Internet service to 100 million users.
Broadband Internet services will reach an additional 25 million people, and 70 percent of broadband subscribers will have access to connection speeds of 4MBps or faster, according to the MIIT's plan.
The government also hopes to expand the fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) service, an integrated family broadband system, to at least 35 million additional households this year, according to the plan.
By the end of January, the number of broadband users in China stood at 177.37 million and 3G users reached 245.88 million.