FCC Sees "Striking" Broadband Access Improvements

The Federal Communications Commission reports “striking across-the-board-improvements” in U.S. broadband access services in its July 2012 “Measuring Broadband America Report.”

The study focuses on three primary improvements in residential broadband service over the last year, beginning with accurate delivery of advertised performance. Five ISPs now routinely deliver nearly one hundred percent or greater of the speed advertised to the consumer even during time periods when bandwidth demand is at its peak, the report says.

In the August 2011 Report, only two ISPs met this level of performance. In 2011, the average ISP delivered 87 percent of advertised download speed during peak usage periods; in 2012, that jumped to 96 percent, the report says. .

Performance also is more uniform, across providers. The 2011 study showed wide variances between top performers and bottom performers in meeting advertised speeds.

On average, customers subscribed to faster speed tiers in 2012 than in 2011. This is a result of both upgrades by ISPs to their network as well as some migration of consumers to higher speed services.

During the testing period for the August 2011 Report, the average speed tier was 11.1 Megabits per second. In the latest report, speed increased to 14.3 Mbps, an almost 30 percent increase in just one year.

The actual increase in experienced speed by consumers was even greater than the increase in advertised speed. End user experienced speeds rose from 10.6 Mbps to 14.6 Mbps, an  improvement of about 38 percent over the one year period.

The report expresses optimism that the U.S. market is moving toward the goal of equipping at least 100 million homes with actual download speeds of at least 50 Mbps by 2015, and 100 Mbps by 2020.

The August 2011 Report showed that the ISPs included in the Report were, on average, delivering 87 percent of advertised speeds during the peak consumer usage hours of weekdays from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm local time.

The July 2012 Report finds that ISP performance has improved overall, with ISPs delivering on average 96 percent of advertised speeds during peak intervals, and with five ISPs routinely meeting or exceeding advertised rates.

On average, during peak periods, DSL-based services delivered download speeds that were 84 percent of advertised speeds, cable-based services delivered 99 percent of advertised speeds, and fiber-to-the-home services delivered 117 percent of advertised speeds.

This compared with 2011 results showing performance levels of 82 percent for DSL, 93 percent for cable, and 114 percent for fiber.

Peak period speeds decreased from 24-hour average speeds by 0.8 percent for fiber-to-the-home services, 3.4 percent for DSL-based services and 4.1 percent for cable-based services. This compared with 0.4 percent for fiber services, 5.5 percent for DSL services and 7.3 percent for cable services in 2011.

Average peak period download speeds varied from a high of 120 percent of advertised speed to a low of 77 percent of advertised speed. This is a dramatic improvement from last year where these numbers ranged from a high of 114 percent to a low of 54 percent.

In 2011, on average, ISPs had a six percent decrease in delivered versus advertised download speed between their 24 hour average and their peak period average. In 2012, average performance improved, and there was only a three  percent decrease in performance between 24 hour and peak averages.

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