A report on consumer fixed broadband performance in the United States – Measuring Broadband America – prepared by the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology and Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau reports “significant growth” in broadband speeds and in the uptake of these higher speeds by consumers, though results are not uniform across technologies.
“Spurred by the deployment of enabling technologies such as DOCSIS 3, the maximum advertised download speeds among the most popular service tiers offered by ISPs using cable technologies has increased from 12-30 Mbps in March 2011 to 50-105 Mbps in September 2014,” says the FCC. In contrast, the maximum advertised download speeds that SamKnows tested among the most popular service tiers offered by ISPs using DSL technology has remained generally unchanged since 2011. According to the FCC, there is a growing disparity in most download speeds tested between many DSL-based broadband services and most cable-based broadband services.
According to the FCC, as in its most recent reports, it finds that the actual speeds experienced by most ISPs’ subscribers are close to or exceed the advertised speeds. “All ISPs using cable, fibre or satellite technologies advertise speeds for services that on average are close to or below the actual speeds experienced by their subscribers. However, some ISPs using DSL technologies continue to advertise ‘up-to’ speeds that on average exceed the actual speeds experienced by their subscribers,” it advises.
Actual speeds experienced by consumers may vary based on location and may vary during each day. Starting in this report, the FCC now illustrates, for each ISP, the percentage of participating consumers who experienced an actual monthly average download speed that was greater than 95 per cent, between 80 per cent and 95 per cent, and less than 80 per cent of the advertised download speed. Even though the actual download speeds experienced by most ISPs’ subscribers are close to or exceed the advertised download speeds, for each ISP there are some panellists for whom actual download speed falls significantly short of the advertised download speed. Relatively few subscribers to cable, fibre, or satellite broadband service experience such shortfalls.
“The Internet is continuing to evolve along multiple dimensions: architecture, performance, and services. We will continue to evolve our measurement methodologies to help consumers understand the performance characteristics of their broadband Internet access service, and to thus make informed choices about their use of such services,” notes the FCC.
“Today’s report confirms that advances in network technology are yielding significant improvements in broadband speeds and quality,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “Faster, better broadband will unleash new innovations and new services to improve the lives of the American people. This comprehensive assessment of broadband performance helps to keep consumers informed and hold ISPs accountable.”