Thursday, August 4, 2016

Average U.S. Internet Access Speed Should be 200 Mbps or Higher by 2018

Up to a point, consumers might not care whether the prevailing headline speed for high speed access--where they are able to buy it--is 100 Mbps or 1,000 Mbps (1 Gbps).

In some important ways, a symmetrical connection is “better” than an asymmetrical connection, while “more” bandwidth is “better” than less bandwidth.

For suppliers, who must make the capital investments, it matters whether 100 Mbps or 1,000 Mbps is the ubiquitous offering. But if the market standard is set by a competitor offering 1 Gbps, the upgrades simply must be made.

Of course, headline speed is not the only issue. Lots of consumers will conclude that 100 Mbps at a lower price is preferable to 1,000 Mbps at a higher price.

But it wasn’t so long ago that government policymakers and Internet service providers were talking about building ubiquitous 30 Mbps “ultra-fast” connections, so rapid progress is being made, in some markets and nations.

The typical fixed broadband consumer in the U.S. saw average download speeds greater than 50 Mbps for the first time ever during the first six months of 2016, topping out at 54.97 Mbps in June. That represents a 42 percent increase in download speed year-over-year, according to Ookla.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, 59 percent of U.S. population in 2013 could buy service of at least 100 Mbps download speed, according to the Department of Commerce.

About eight percent could, three years ago,  choose from at least two 100 Mbps providers, and one percent could  choose from three.

With Comcast, AT&T, CenturyLink, Google Fiber and others now rolling out gigabit access service, those figures likely are far too conservative. In fact, U.S. Internet access speeds have been doubling or tripling every five years.

So the U.S. Department of Commerce figures are, by now, quite out of date. At the usual rates of development, the average U.S. consumer should have access to 200 Mbps or more by about 2018.

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