The weighted average advertised broadband speed among 10 of the largest U.S. providers was 146.1 Mbps as of September-October 2019, according to a new FCC report. That was an increase of more than 100% from the same period two years earlier, the commission said.
Most providers were delivering the speeds advertised or close to it, the FCC data showed. The commission looked at the ratio of the median speed for each tier to the advertised tier speed and then calculated the weighted average of these based on the subscriber count per tier. Speeds were measured during peak usage periods – between 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. local time.
Mediacom had the best download performance, regularly exceeding its advertised download speed by more than 120%. Other cable companies also regularly delivered more than their advertised download speeds, including Charter, Comcast, Cox and Optimum. In addition, telco fiber services from Cincinnati Bell, Frontier and Verizon also regularly exceeded their advertised download speeds.
It was a different story with DSL-based offerings. Neither CenturyLink nor Cincinnati Bell nor Frontier DSL offerings regularly delivered 100% of their advertised DSL download speed; however, CenturyLink and Frontier came close. Both companies’ DSL services had average download speeds that were at least 90% of what the companies advertised.
The only service from any of the 10 companies studied with an average download speed below 90% of what the company advertised was Cincinnati Bell, whose average DSL download speeds were 79% of what the company advertised.
Data for Windstream was not segregated by whether the service was DSL- or fiber-based. The average speed delivered was between 90% and 100% of the advertised speed for the company overall.
AT&T did not participate in the FCC Measuring Broadband America program for the period studied in the new report, although the company did participate in previous years.
Data for upload speeds was similar. All the cable companies and all the telco fiber services had average upload speeds exceeding 100% of their advertised upload speeds, while all DSL services except Cincinnati Bell’s had average upload speeds that were at least 80% of their advertised upload speed.
The superior performance of cable and fiber services over DSL is not a new finding. Previous FCC research has yielded similar results.
Measuring Broadband America
The FCC Measuring Broadband America program is based on data collected from the internet connections of thousands of panelists nationwide.
In addition to gathering the information about actual versus advertised speeds, the FCC report also looked at changes in the speeds to which panelists subscribed.
Among panelists that participated in the September-October 2018 and 2019 studies, the FCC found that between 3% and 26% of DSL subscribers (depending on original speed tier) moved to a higher speed tier over that one-year period, either because they upgraded service or because their provider raised the speed associated with the subscriber’s service tier. Among cable broadband subscribers, the percentage moving to a higher speed service was anywhere from 4% to 100%, depending on speed tier. For fiber subscribers, the percentage was between 16% and 50%.
In addition, 1% to 8% of subscribers migrated to a higher speed tier using a different technology from what they had in the 2018 study.