Annual US broadband report shows significant improvements in internet speeds

By Greg S ยท 15 replies
Sep 7, 2017
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  1. In a report released by Ookla using data collected from, both mobile and fixed broadband connections have shown significant growth in speed over the past year. Thanks to improving technologies such as DOCSIS 3.1, wider availability of faster plans at lower pricing and new mobile devices with advanced LTE capabilities, speeds have risen greatly across the US.

    Throughout the last 12 months, mobile Internet speeds have increased by 19.2 percent on average (in last year's report, a growth of 33 percent was noted). For mobile download speeds, the US is nowhere near the top of the list. In fact, the United States ranks 44th globally for mobile download speeds (between Germany and Oman). While country size and population density is certainly a factor, it shows there is plenty of room for improvement with existing technologies.

    Upload speeds saw very little increase over the previous year. Only a four percent increase (up to 8.51 Mbps) was observed. In the prior year, a 28 percent improvement in upload speed was found. The US falls in line at number 65 for mobile upload speeds in between Mongolia and Germany.

    Interestingly, both upload and download speeds slightly decreased during Q2 2017. Ookla points to the fact that deprioritization for customers on unlimited data plans could be the cause of the decline. For customers in rural areas, download speeds were 20.9 percent lower, resulting in an average of 17.93 Mbps.

    Out of the four major cellular carriers in the US, T-Mobile reigns supreme in average network speed. In the mobile broadband report, Ookla has created a scoring system that uses the 10th, 50th, and 90th percentiles of speeds collected and then generates a weighted average with a 1:2:1 ratio. Download speeds account for 90 percent and upload speeds account for 10 percent of the final score.

    The Speed Scores below are meant to best represent the true speeds users can expect on any given network.

    In determining mobile network speeds, end-user devices are becoming more important than ever. Test results show that newer devices capable of higher order modulation, 4-Layer MIMO and aggregating three component carrier signals score significantly better than older devices without these capabilities.

    Although it may appear as if there is a relatively large gap between the ranks of carriers, the results become a little bit closer when only the top 100 cellular market areas are considered. T-Mobile only edges ahead of Verizon by 0.3 Mbps, which is not likely noticeable for real-world use. AT&T is still approximately 2 Mbps slower on average and Sprint is very clearly in 4th place, behind at 7.3 Mbps less than T-Mobile.

    For this year's study, mobile download speeds at or exceeding 5 Mbps were considered to be acceptable. Carriers like to brag about their coverage, but how many areas receive acceptable speeds for common tasks performed on mobile devices? Landing in the same order as the statistics for average speeds, the acceptable speed regions account for less than 80 percent of coverage areas.

    Moving on to fixed broadband connections, the United States ranks 15th for download speed between the Netherlands and Spain with an average of 64.17 Mbps. The US ranks 24th globally for upload speed with an average of 22.79 Mbps.

    Compared to one year ago, speeds have drastically improved. Back in Q2 2016, average download speeds were below 50 Mbps and upload speeds were around 15 Mbps. Ookla attributes the increase in speeds to the introduction of 300 Mbps, 400 Mbps and Gigabit service options for a larger number of customers.

    While home users generally have a very select few options over who their service provider is, across the board increases in network speeds were observed. Comcast's XFINITY Internet service utilizing greater numbers of DOCSIS 3.1 channels ranks as number one for network speeds with a Speed Score of 69.58 Mbps. Verizon falls second in line for speed with its fiber optic Fios service.

    The acceptable speed ratio for fixed broadband has been set at 10 Mbps. Thankfully, fixed service providers score slightly better in this metric than mobile providers do although rural areas are still plagued by lack of options and slower average network speeds.

    Looking at different regions of the US, the West holds the crown for internet speeds followed closely by the South. The Midwest falls third in line and the Northeast finishes last. However, the Midwest is the lowest overall if you exclude Comcast from the Northeast test results.

    It should be noted that small service providers offering high-speed connections have not been properly sampled and accounted for in determining which regions receive the fastest speeds due to lack of availability.

    After sifting through all of the data for US internet services, the upward trend in speed is clear. How long it will take for all customers to receive faster service is unknown although development is indeed taking place and more users are gaining access to faster connections.

    It will likely be a long time before gigabit or even multi-gigabit internet becomes the norm but there is plenty of improvement to look forward to.

    Permalink to story.

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2017
  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 3,939   +2,428

    And the IP's haven't missed the opportunity to increase the $$ either! I notice many of them no longer sell several tiers of internet speed, only the highest so it's a "take it or leave it" program ....
  3. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing. Posts: 3,398   +861

    Where's the competition, Ajit???
  4. amstech

    amstech IT Overlord Posts: 1,936   +1,102

    There has been a rollout of better service in my area lately.

    For years and years I had TimeWarner Cable (lack of options in Upstate NY, I see Canada out my window) and we paid $80 a month for 20Mbps, which TwC called 'Turbo', no TV/Phone just internet. Now that Spectrum (Charter) took over I pay $69.99 (no tax, that's the total) a month for 60Mbps but I frequently download at 70-80, I've even hit 8.4MB down on Steam.
  5. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,435   +488

    Speed speed does get to a point where speed does not matter. what matters is how much bandwidth.
  6. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,061   +1,521

    Yes, speeds increase while data caps DEcrease and service coverage remains totally stagnant.
  7. Lionvibez

    Lionvibez TS Evangelist Posts: 1,340   +502

    Add latency to your list.
  8. Rickets

    Rickets TS Rookie

    Try Verizon FiOS. I pay $67 for 150/150 Mbps. Unless that is not an option in your area. I was fortunate enough to have that price for the last 2 years and continue to do so.This is in the Buffalo area.
  9. ddferrari

    ddferrari TS Maniac Posts: 387   +166

    I live in the Midwest and even though CenturyLink seems to be at the bottom in this article, I've been happy with their service. Been paying $30/month plus tax for years for a "top" speed of 40 Mbps, but because I live in downtown Saint Paul and thus near their hub, I actually get 47 Mbps (~6 MB/s) , which I verified with and Steam. Plenty fast for my needs and almost 20% faster than what I pay for.

    Xfinity offers the same price/speed for 12 months, then it doubles.
  10. You can call Comcast and negotiate a new price every 12 months and trust me they will give it to you, even if they are the only guys on your block to provide internet. I have been playing this game for 6 years now. It's a stupid game and I wish they would just give me one price but what other options do I have?
  11. havok585

    havok585 TS Booster Posts: 167   +38

  12. ddferrari

    ddferrari TS Maniac Posts: 387   +166

  13. ddferrari

    ddferrari TS Maniac Posts: 387   +166

    Well Comcast's plan in my area is $30 (for 12 months) for "up to" 55 Mbps - give or take 20% according to them. So if I switch to them and end up at 44 Mbps they would say that's within their quoted range. That would be a slight downgrade for me and I'd have to buy a new modem/router combo which runs about $200. That's why I'm sticking with Centurylink for now. Plus, I despise Comcast and won't do business with them.
  14. SantistaUSA

    SantistaUSA TS Booster Posts: 98   +25

    The speeds in the US should be much better than this, I am fortunate enough to be able to get Google Fiber here in Kansas City MO. 1 Gbps up and 1 Gbps down for $70 is just plain AWESOME! I'm spoiled, specially because I only have to pay half :D
  15. havok585

    havok585 TS Booster Posts: 167   +38

    It says in the screenshot.
  16. bohemond1099

    bohemond1099 TS Member Posts: 49   +14

    "For customers in rural areas, download speeds were 20.9 percent lower, resulting in an average of 17.93 Mbps" This doesn't factor in how much of that is viciously capped satellite internet. Satellite is the best high speed internet most rural areas can get; but the ridiculously small data caps ensure that an comparison to city slicker internet is nonsensical.

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