ISPs closer to advertised speeds, but still slow

The FCC's Measuring Broadband America, A Report on Consumer Wireline Broadband Performance in the U.S., reveals three positive changes in consumer broadband since last year's report:

  • ISP promises of performance are more accurate.
  • ISPs are more consistent in their ability to deliver advertised speeds.
  • Consumers are subscribing to faster speed tiers and receiving faster speeds.

The  three major delivery systems - fiber, cable and DSL - all showed improvement, with fiber still delivering the best performance: 117 percent of advertised performance, increasing from 114 percent last year. DSL, the oldest technology, was the slowest with 84 percent of advertised speed, with cable in the middle at 99 percent.

Moreover, speed improved in the all-important peak use time. ISPs now deliver "... on average 96 percent of advertised speeds during peak intervals, and with five ISPs routinely meeting or exceeding advertised rates."

The clear winner was Verizon FiOS. The "average peak period sustained download speeds as a percentage of advertised," for FiOS, both the 20 Mbps service and the 25 Mbps, was about 120 percent. The next fastest ISPs hovered around 100 percent.

Nevertheless, the New America Foundation managed to rain on the American ISP parade. Its independent report, "The Cost of Connectivity," found that no matter what the technology, U.S. urban consumers generally pay more for less. For instance, as USA Today summarized it, "Hong Kong residents pay about $35 a month for 500 Mbps service, while people in New York and Washington pay a similar bill for broadband typically 20 times slower."

When it comes to communication bundles, Americans often fare much worse. As the New American Foundation said:

"...consumers in Paris can purchase a 100 Mbps bundle of television, telephone, and high-speed Internet service for the equivalent of approximately $35. By contrast, in Lafayette, LA, the top American city, the cheapest available package costs around $65 and includes just a 6 Mbps Internet connection."

According to, the U.S. ranks last in average download speeds, after the E.U., the G-8, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation region.

The U.S. must continue to improve and upgrade to reach the National Broadband Plan benchmarks of 100 million homes with download speeds of at least 50Mbps download/20 Mbps upload by 2015,  and 100 Mbps in both directions by 2020.
Check your own connection with the Speed Matters speed test.

Measuring Broadband America (FCC report, Jul. 2012)

ISPs improve delivery of the Internet speeds you pay for
(USA Today, Jul. 19, 2012)

The Cost of Connectivity (New America Foundation news release, Jul. 19, 2012)

Net Index (website)

Speed Matters speed test (website)