Three cable companies provide the fastest Internet service in the nation, according to a report published yesterday by PC Magazine. The author noted, however, that Verizon’s FiOS service is actually faster, on average, than the cable companies—but the carrier’s overall ratings were dragged down by slower DSL connections that were also part of the testing.

Topping the list were Cox, Comcast and Charter Communications. All scored a “fantastic average” of 18 Mbps or more for downloads, PC Magazine reported. Cox has the best upload speed of the three, with an average of 4.8 Mbps.

The data on which the report was based was gathered through speed tests completed through a web site set up by PC Magazine based on Ookla’s tool. More than 58,000 test results were gathered between May and July of this year. The tool rates service providers based on a weighted average that uses 80% of a service provider’s download speeds and 20% of a service provider’s upload speeds. Using this measurement, the three cable companies all had scores above 15.

At 14.8 Verizon’s overall score was only a bit lower—even though it included both FiOS and DSL customers. “It’s clear that FiOS’s speeds floats Verizon above the rest,” PC Magazine said. The author noted, for example, that Verizon was the fastest ISP by state, with an index score of 19 in Texas, where FiOS has been widely deployed. Verizon also had scores above 18 in at least two states—Florida and Maryland—where FiOS is also available.

States with wide cable broadband deployments also came in near the top of the rankings—including Virginia (19.02), Rhode Island (18.17), and Oklahoma (17.7), which are served by Cox; and Illinois (17.0), Oregon (16.89) and Minnesota (16.74), which are served by Comcast.

States whose fastest ISPs had low scores were in former BellSouth states now served by AT&T, including Alabama, South Carolina and Mississippi, all of which had indexes below 5. As the fastest ISP in the District of Columbia, Verizon also had a low score of 3.19.

It’s a bit difficult to reconcile the PC Magazine findings with the data from Akamai’s latest State of the Internet report, which looks at average broadband speeds by state.

That report generally finds eastern states to have the highest average connection speed—and only two of the states on Akamai’s most recent Top 10 list—Rhode Island and Virginia–had “fastest ISP” scores above 18 called out by PC Magazine.

It is possible however, that many people in PC Magazine’s top states receive service from ISPs that offer slower average connections, dragging down the state averages. Also a few states in PC Magazine’s study—including Delaware, which routinely tops Akamai’s list–did not have a sufficient number of respondents to be included on the PC Magazine list.

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