Cable Download Speeds Deemed Most Reliable in Europe

But 74% of European Consumers Receive Advertised Internet Speeds, European Commission Says

The European Commission chided area ISPs for not providing higher quality broadband connections overall, but acknowledged that the region's cable operators are supporting the most reliable download speeds.

In a study of fixed broadband performance released Wednesday, the Commission said European consumers receive, on average, 74% of the “advertised headline speed” they’re paying with respect to the downstream. And DSL apparently shoulder much of the blame for not doing better.

Cable, at 91.4%, was the most reliable, followed by FTTx services (84.4%) and xDSL-based services (63%), the Commission said. The average download speeds across all countries and all fixed broadband technologies was 19.47 Mbps during peak hours. FTTx was the fastest, at 41.02 Mbps, trailed by cable (33.1 Mbps), and DSL (7.2 Mbps).

All ISPs did better with the upstream, with 88% hitting their advertised speeds. The average upload speed was 6.20 Mbps, with FTTx well out in front (19.8 Mbps), followed by cable’s modest 3.68 Mbps and DSL’s paltry 0.69 Mbps.

The European Commission based its findings on data from SamKnows, a broadband performance testing specialist that has conducted similar studies in the U.K. and the U.S. Results for the European study were taken in March 2012 from a panel of 9,104 participants. A total of 3,065,341,850 measurements were taken across 75,978,173 unique tests, according to the Commission.

The European Commission said the study was its first to show the difference between advertised and actual broadband speeds from all European Union member states. “There are significant differences in the European national markets, most likely due to advertising practices,” European Commission VP Neelie Kroes said, in a statement. “Consumers need more of this sort of data to help make informed choices, so we will repeat the exercise. And we take these first results as further proof of the need for a real connected single market."

The European Commission has two more annual reports slated. Among the goals set by its “Digital Agenda,” the European Commission wants the region’s ISPs to offer download broadband speeds of at least 30 Mbps to all citizens by 2020, and have at least 50% of European households subscribing to Internet tiers providing speeds of at least 100 Mbps by that time.