FCC Broadband Study Shows Which Companies Actually Come Close To Meeting Advertised Download Speeds

Today, at — of all places — a Best Buy in Washington, DC, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced the results of the agency’s Measuring Broadband America study, which looked to put a more accurate number on what consumers should be expecting from their broadband providers.

The FCC study finds that only about half of consumers even know what tier of broadband service they pay for. And for most DSL, cable and fiberoptic internet consumers, the only numbers they have to refer to when discussing the speed of their connection is their ISP’s advertised speed, which is often a maximum or “up to” speed and may not be indicative of what customers are actually receiving.

Perhaps surprisingly, the FCC study of dozens of ISPs found the following regarding sustained download speeds:
“On average, during peak periods DSL-based services delivered download speeds that were 82 percent of advertised speeds, cable-based services delivered 93 percent of advertised speeds, and fiber-to-the-home services delivered 114 percent of advertised speeds.”

If these numbers are to be believed, they are a huge improvement over results from a 2009 study which found most consumers to only be getting about 50% of their ISPs’ advertised download speeds.

As for specific providers, the following graph shows that the provider whose 24-hour average download most exceeded its advertised speed (Verizon FiOS) also demonstrated the smallest dip during peak hours.

Meanwhile, Cablevision, whose 24-hour average was the farthest off from what it advertises, experienced the most drastic drop during the hours of highest consumer demand.
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The two following graph and chart show how the actual/advertised speeds change depending on a customer’s tier of service. For example, Cablevision’s advertised 15Mbps tier is actually only 7.47Mbps (50%) during peak hours, while its advertised 30Mbps tier is slightly better at 20.83Mbps (69%). Meanwhile, the study shows that Verizon FiOS delivers more than advertised speeds at all advertised tiers.
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Following the release of the report, a rep for Cablevision sent the following statement to Consumerist:

Cablevision delivers some of the fastest Internet connections in the country, on our basic tier, two higher levels of service and our WiFi network and this report simply does not reflect the experience of our nearly 3 million broadband customers. Our high-speed Internet product leads the nation in consumer adoption and has consistently won top ratings in much broader and more extensive consumer surveys conducted by J.D. Power & Associates, PC Magazine and others.

The FCC has made the full report available at www.fcc.go. Additionally, consumers can always go to Broadbandmap.gov to locate broadband providers in their area.