‘Room for Improvement’ as Most Major US Broadband ISPs Fail to Meet Advertised Speeds

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Most major US broadband ISPs come close to or even surpass their advertised speed, but only some of the time, according to the latest State of US Broadband report.  The FCC released the report this week with a new measurement of service consistency.

For this report the FCC measured not only the top speeds of downloads and uploads on various ISPs, but also the speed which 80 percent of customers receive 80 percent of the time.  This “80/80” measurement shows a significant gap between the speeds ISPs can deliver and the speeds they usually do.

The report shows that of 16 providers studied, all provide even better speeds than advertised 20 percent of the time, except for Verizon DSL. Half meet their advertised speed 80 percent of the time, though two more providers just missed their advertised speeds.

The first conclusion of the report is that “many ISPs now closely meet or exceed the speeds they advertise, but there continues to be room for improvement.” The report singles out the four DSL services for delivering sustained peak-period download speeds below 90 percent of those advertised. All four exceed 80 percent, but several companies surpassed 100 percent of advertised download speed, and many surpassed their advertised upload speeds during peak periods.

Among those with good peak speeds, Verizon Fibre is notable for easily surpassing 100 percent of both upload and download speeds, while satellite network provider ViaSat/Exede exceeded its advertised speeds by almost 140 percent.

“Consumers deserve to get what they pay for,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “While it’s encouraging to see that in the past these reports have encouraged providers to improve their services, I’m concerned that some providers are failing to deliver consistent speeds to consumers that are commensurate to their advertised speeds. As a result, I’ve directed FCC staff to write to the underperforming companies to ask why this happened and what they will do to solve this.”

The FCC does not suggest what is behind the disparity between the top speeds and “80/80” speeds ISPs deliver, but the report does expect improvement over the next year.

Last year, Comcast accounted for nearly half of all new broadband subscribers. In 2013, the top seventeen providers acquired over 2.6 million net additional high speed Internet subscribers in 2013.The report notes that consumers continue to migrate to faster speed tiers, and that upload speeds vary widely.

Google-funded WorldVu is planning to launch its own satellite internet service in 2019, and Google’s Project Loon is an attempt for a similar low-orbit network of internet service providing balloons.

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