Broadband Bragging Rights

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Updated on

Cable operators top the
list of fastest U.S. residential Internet-
service providers based on
download speeds — but phone
companies fare better on the upstream
side, according to data collected
by network-performance
information provider Ookla.

The top five residential ISPs
in the country based on average
download speed are Comcast,
followed by Charter Communications,
Cablevision Systems’
Optimum Online, Midcontinent
Communications and Time Warner
Cable’s Road Runner.

The rankings are based on
6.6 million individual speed
tests per day collected between
June 27 and July 26, 2010, via Ookla’s website.

However, on the upstream
side, the top three providers over
that 30-day period were telcos —
SureWest Communications, Verizon
Communications and AT&T
— followed by Comcast and Cox

Historically, cable’s DOCSIS-based
services have been hamstrung
on the upstream side,
because only a narrow slice of
spectrum (usually 5 to 42 Megahertz)
is set aside for upstream
traffic from cable modems and
set-tops. That’s beginning to
change, as MSOs look to increase
upstream capacity and take advantage
of channel-bonding
features in the DOCSIS 3.0 specification (see “Big Upstream Upgrades,”
June 21, 2010, p. 42).

Last week, Seattle-based Ookla
began providing the ISP data
for consumers on its Net Index
website sorted by geographical
region and download speed, upload
speed or quality (a measure
of network ping performance).
The site is free for consumers to
access, while Ookla charges businesses
a fee for access to a more
extensive data set.

For the U.S. overall, the average
download speed is 9.87 Mbps with
an average upload speed of 2.12,
according to the company’s data
for June 27 to July 26. That puts
the U.S. in 27th place on downstream
speeds out of 160 countries
in the Ookla Net Index.

Ookla said it will soon publish
a “Value Index” showing the cost
breakdown of broadband services
by country, state, city and ISP.
To date, the company has collected
survey information from more than
100,000 broadband subscribers.

Preliminary data shows the
current average monthly cost for
broadband in the U.S. at $47.32,
with the average cost per Mbps at
$5.06, although that varies widely
by state. For example, based on
download speed, broadband in
California costs just $4.24 per Mbps
and in Washington it’s $3.89, while
Idaho broadband averages $8.80
per Mbps and in Michigan the figure
is $6.36, according to Ookla.

Ookla provides broadband
speed testing, with more than 1.6
billion individual tests to date,
and Web-based network diagnostic
applications. Its customers
include Comcast, Time Warner
Cable, Cox, AT&T, Verizon, ESPN,
CNN and Cisco Systems.