Most major U.S. Internet service providers deliver at least 82% of their advertised speeds, FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, revealed at Best Buy in Washington D.C. This is a major improvement over a similar study from just two years ago which concluded that actual speeds were often half of what was advertised.
Of the 13 ISPs analyzed, DSL providers managed to fulfill 82% of their advertised download speeds during peak hours while cable companies delivered 93% and fiber-based services doled out 113%. For upload speeds during peak hours, DSL managed 95%, cable dished out 108% and fiber won again with an impressive 112%. Verizon performed the best (even while excluding fiber service) and Cablevision did the worst.
Genachowski exclaimed that the latest study presents the most comprehensive picture of U.S. Internet performance ever, analyzing bandwidth delivered to 6,800 users of 13 ISPs who represent about 86% of the U.S. population. ISPs seemed happy to hear the news as well:
"True to the Chairman’s word [FCC Chairman], he was not satisfied with guesswork and instead insisted on conducting a fact-based inquiry into what was really happening in the marketplace. The results are in, and it’s clear that consumers are getting high-quality broadband services from their ISPs. Perhaps now we can get past the rhetoric about advertised vs. actual speeds and focus on the important task of ensuring all Americans have access to these broadband services."
-- Bob Quinn, AT&T Senior Vice President
Despite the apparent enthusiasm of AT&T and others, it is worth noting that the the FCC's testing methodology changed since the previous study, according to Richard Bennett, a senior researcher at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. The new methodology supposedly addresses critics' quality concerns with the sample data from the 2009 FCC study, a study which painted a substantially more dismal picture of American ISPs. Such changes could account for significantly higher percentages this time around, although there is little evidence of conspiracy as of yet. The FCC says it is working on publishing the raw data for public consumption online.
As one last interesting bit, researchers also discovered that half of Americans who volunteered for the study could not correctly report the advertised speed of their broadband connection.