FCC: ISPs Finally Getting Close to Delivering Advertised Speeds

A new FCC report based on measuring real broadband speeds in about 7,000 U.S. homes found that ISPs are finally delivering the speeds they promise.

For the last few months, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has been working together with SamKnows, researchers from a number of academic institutions and over 13 major ISPs to evaluate the state of the U.S. broadband industry and how well broadband providers in the U.S. perform. Today, this group published its first report based on data collected by almost 7,000 routers the group distributed to homes all across the country. This project is part of the National Broadband Plan and a hardware-based version of the web-based Consumer Broadband Test the FCC launched in early 2010.

Fiber: Faster Than Advertised While DSL Providers Still Overpromise

The researchers specifically looked at how well the three main access technologies (cable, DSL, fiber) did in terms of matching the speeds the ISPs advertise. While just a few years ago, most providers overpromised and underdelivered, things have thankfully gotten better now.

Sustained upload and download speeds for fiber customers during peak hours was generally better than advertised. For cable customers, download speeds were about 93% of the advertised rate, though upload speeds were often faster. DSL providers, on the other hand, still can’t quite match their advertised rates.


Still Some Black Sheep

What matters more than the general numbers, though, is how well individual providers perform. As the graph below clearly shows, there are still some providers who clearly promise far better speeds than they deliver. The worst offender among the providers represented in this survey is Insight, a relatively small cable company based in the Midwest.


Here are a number of other interesting results from this study: [list]

  • On average, during peak periods DSL-based services delivered download speeds that were 82 percent of advertised speeds, cable-based services delivered 93 percent of advertised speeds, and fiber-to-the-home services delivered 114 percent of advertised speeds.
  • Latency was lowest in fiber-to-the-home services, and this finding was true across all fiber-to-the-home speed tiers.
  • Fiber-to-the-home services provided 17 milliseconds (ms) round-trip latency on average, while cable-based services averaged 28 ms, and DSL-based services averaged 44 ms.
  • Burst speed techniques increased short-term download performance by as much as 52 percent during peak periods for some offerings, and as little as 6 percent for other offerings.



If you are interested in taking a look at more of the data, you can find the full report here.

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