Most Broadband Internet Speeds Match Advertised Claims, FCC Finds

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By Paul Barbagallo  

Most U.S. broadband providers are either meeting or exceeding their advertised connection speeds, according to a new report released Feb. 15 by the Federal Communications Commission.

The report , Measuring Broadband America, the third the FCC has compiled since 2009, once again gave the industry high marks for fulfilling promises made to consumers in advertising.

On average, ISPs are now delivering 97 percent of advertised speeds during the peak internet usage hours of 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays, a slight increase in performance based on last year's FCC report.

The new findings, however, represent a significant jump from just two years ago. In 2011, the FCC found that ISPs were connecting customers at speeds that were 87 percent of those advertised during the same times of peak demand.

Commission analysts attribute the year-over-year change to improvements in ISPs' network performance as opposed to “downward adjustments” in speed tiers offered.

“This is good news for consumers and the economy, but we can't be satisfied,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement Feb. 15. “To unleash innovation and realize broadband's full potential, we must continue to see increases in broadband speed and capacity.”

Last month, Genachowski launched a “Gigabit City Challenge,” challenging the country to build additional gigabit fiber networks--about 100 times faster than most residential connections today.

The FCC in its 2010 National Broadband Plan set a goal of connecting 100 million U.S. households to broadband service with actual download speeds of at least 50 Mbps by 2015, and 100 Mbps by 2020.

More Consumers Willing to Pay for Speed

One positive indicator in the Measuring Broadband America report is that more consumers appear to willing to pay for faster speeds.

The average speed tier now subscribed to by consumers increased from 14.3 Megabits per second (Mbps) to 15.6 Mbps. Nearly half of consumers who subscribed to speeds of less than 1 Mbps six months ago have adopted higher speeds, and nearly a quarter of the users who subscribed to speeds between 1 Mbps and 3 Mbps have upgraded to faster speed tiers, the report found.

The providers that participated in the report were AT&T Inc.; Cablevision Systems Corp.; CenturyLink Inc.; Charter Communications; Comcast Corp.; Cox Communications; Frontier Communications Corp.; Insight Communications; Mediacom; Qwest Communications (now CenturyLink); TimeWarner Cable; Verizon Communications Inc.; Windstream Communications; and ViaSat Inc. Together these companies account for 80 percent of all U.S. residential broadband internet connections.

Of these providers, Cablevision, Comcast, Mediacom, and Verizon fiber-based internet services either met or exceeded their advertised download speeds during the peak usage time. Windstream, meanwhile, met only about 81 percent. AT&T, Centurylink, Frontier, Insight, Qwest and Verizon DSL, or digital subscriber line, service exceeded 80 percent of advertised download speeds.

The report is based on data collected in September 2012.

For the FCC's report, visit