FCC: Cablevision Beefs Up Broadband Performance

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Cablevision Systems "markedly improved" its average download speeds in October -- delivering over 90% of advertised speeds during peak periods for customers on its 15 Mbps tier -- compared with this spring, according to data compiled by the Federal Communications Commission.

In its "Measuring Broadband America" study released in August, the FCC found Cablevision delivered about 50% of advertised download speeds during peak periods (7-11 p.m. Monday-Friday), and less than 80% of promised speeds over a 24-hour period. The data was collected during March 2011.

In October, the most recent month for which data is available, subscribers to Cablevision's 15 Megabit per second service were receiving average download speeds during peaks hours at over 90% of the advertised speed, Joel Gurin, chief of the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, wrote in a blog post Monday.

By comparison, average users across all companies other than Cablevision were receiving download speeds during peak hours of 89% of the advertised speeds. "We are pleased to note that the performance of one company -- Cablevision -- markedly improved from earlier this year," Gurin said.

According to Cablevision, the latest FCC data shows that the MSO delivers 106% of advertised speeds over a 24-hour period. "This is an important validation of the value and high-quality service that our customers have come to expect from Optimum Online," Cablevision said in a statement.

The FCC's previous study found ISPs on average delivered actual download speeds within 20% of advertised speeds, with only "modest performance declines" during peak periods. That's an improvement over the agency's data from early 2009, when the agency found actual download speeds lagged advertised speeds by roughly 50%.

According to the March data, Verizon's FiOS Internet delivered 114% of promised download speeds during peak periods. Comcast also overdelivered during primetime and overall, while Cox Communications and Charter Communications topped 100% over a 24-hour period.

In Cablevision markets, Verizon has been running ads for FiOS Internet citing the earlier FCC figures. One TV ad shows people staring at their computer screens as the narrator asks, "Are you suffering from cable... vision?"

"Those who had done well in our tests spread the news, and attempted to use their strong performance results to win customers in the marketplace," Gurin noted in his blog post Monday.

The data in the FCC's previous report is based on a statistically selected subset of approximately 6,800 consumer volunteers, using hardware to monitor broadband performance continuously during March 2011. The FCC enlisted U.K.-based analytics vendor SamKnows to administer the project.

The FCC will continue to measure broadband speeds and will issue updated reports periodically, according to Gurin. In addition, the agency is working with ISPs and consumer groups to develop new ways to inform consumers about their broadband speeds, he said.