Rome - Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta on Thursday promised to provide high-speed Internet access to half the county within three years, after a report showed that Italy has the slowest connections in Europe.

“Italy is behind in developing high-speed Internet and this is a priority for the government,” Letta said, calling for “a strong acceleration” by Internet operators and the government to increase access.

A report published this week by the US consultancy Akamai found that Italy in the third quarter of last year came 48th among countries in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region in terms of Internet speed.

It was the slowest in the European Union, with an average speed of 4.9 megabytes per second - still a 24-percent increase from the third quarter of 2012.

The best performer was the Netherlands with 12.5 Mbps and South Africa was last with 2.3 Mbps.

South Korea was the first globally with an average speed of 22.1 Mbps, the report said. - Sapa-AFP