June 19, 2014
FCC Finds Broadband Speeds Are Still Lacking For Some Customers
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
This week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued its latest "Measuring Broadband America" report, and it found that the nation's top ISPs are in fact generally delivering the promised speeds. However some providers are less consistent in many cases.
This year's study by the FCC tested upload and download speeds of broadband services, and more importantly looked into the consistency of the speeds. The FCC looked into congestion issues at the so-called "peering" and interconnection points in some broadband networks as these are the points in the network where broadband providers connect with other networks.
This fourth annual report, which was released on Wednesday, found that cable and fiber broadband providers now deliver and even exceed on advertised network speeds but DSL providers are lagging behind and not delivering on the promises. The report found that Verizon FiOS customers were getting 101 percent of the promised download speeds, while 95 percent of Cablevision subscribers were getting 117 percent of the promised download speeds and 95 percent of ViaSat's satellite customers received 126 percent of advertised speeds.
Comcast, which has 21 million subscribers and is currently the nation's largest broadband provider, was able to deliver more than 98 percent of advertised speeds to 95 percent of its subscribers. About 50 percent of AT&T customers received at least 99 percent of the advertised speeds, while 70 percent received at least 86 percent of their speeds.
Generally the speeds met or even exceeded the promise speeds the study found.
All this might seem like good news to those who have been trying to stream content from Netflix, especially those Verizon customers. The FCC has had to step in and investigate the agreements between Netflix and Verizon over alleged slow service by the broadband carrier.
"Consumers deserve to get what they pay for," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement, as reported by Cnet. "While it's encouraging to see that in the past these reports have encouraged providers to improve their services, I'm concerned that some providers are failing to deliver consistent speeds to consumers that are commensurate to their advertised speeds."
The FCC will reportedly send letters to the companies that underperformed in the tests.
Customers subscribing to DSL services tended to lag behind, while fiber and cable technologies both continued to evolve and provide higher speed offerings. The FCC's report found that DSL providers are somewhat constrained from offering higher Internet speeds due to technology limitations, but found that Qwest/CenturyLink was able to increase its download speeds over the year.
While the FCC noted that its study uncovered network congestion at key interconnection points, which could affect streaming video services, the report was hailed by industry groups.
"We hope that this latest report again helps to refute the unsubstantiated allegations that cable operators routinely under-deliver and are solely responsible for any deficiencies in the performance experienced by consumers," the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) said in a provided statement, as reported by PC Mag. "Since the Commission started this effort back in 2010, the cable industry has voluntarily submitted to rigorous third-party testing and established a consistent track record of outstanding performance."
The tests for the 2014 study were conducted last September with "Whitebox" devices that are designed to perform automated measurements. These devices were distributed to 10,000 customers around the country, and download speed tiers ranged from 1Mbps to 75Mbps.