updated 12:05 pm EDT, Tue August 2, 2011
Agency sees big improvement since 2009 survey
A report issued today by the Federal Communications Commission shows broadband speeds in the U.S. are now significantly closer to what Internet service providers advertise than they were in 2009. The report found that actual download speeds provided by the majority of U.S. broadband providers were within 80 percent or better of companies' advertised speeds. In 2009, download speeds were more often around 50 percent of the advertised rate.
The report is based on the 13 biggest ISPs in the U.S., which represents 86 percent of all U.S. fixed broadband connections. It includes Internet service delivered by cable, DSL and fiber-to-the-home. Verizon had its fiber (FiOS) and DSL services measured separately.
The study found that the biggest factor in meeting advertised speed was the choice of provider, not the time of day. Even during peak hours, actual download speeds were close to advertised data rates. Fiber service performed the best, with 114 percent of advertised speeds, followed by cable at 93 percent and DSL with 82 percent. The ISPs performances varied from 114 percent of advertised speed to a low of 54 percent. Average download speeds as a percentage of those advertised were highest for Verizon's fiber service and lowest for Cablevision.
The 13 participating ISPs included AT&T, Comcast, Time Warner, Cox Communications, Cablevision, Frontier, CenturyLink, Charter, Insight Communications, Mediacom Communications, Qwest Communications, Verizon Communications and Windstream.
The study is the first to measure residential wireline broadband performance on a national level. The complete findings of the report and its raw data are available online. The FCC has also prepared a guide to help consumers choose which services and providers are best for them.