FCC Study Preview: ISPs Improve Delivery On Advertised, Actual Broadband Speeds


ISPs are delivering faster broadband speeds and more fully on their promises of advertised speeds, and subscribers are benefiting from both.

That is the upbeat takeaway from highlights of the FCC's second annual residential wireline broadband advertised/actual speed survey, done in cooperation with the nation's largest Internet service providers, including the major cable operators.The report's bottom line: ISPs have delivered significant improvements in only a year in key areas, including more accurate promises of performance.

According to a source familiar with the FCC's planned unveiling of the study at a public meeting Thursday, as of April 2012, participating ISPs were delivering 96% of advertised download speeds during peak periods, up from 87% in March 2011. The source did not have a breakout for the cable ISPs, but last year's study found that they were already delivering 93% of advertised speeds at peak periods

The 2012 study found that improvements in delivering on those ISP-advertised speeds were due to ameliortion in network performance, rather than "adjustment to the speed of tiers offered."

The study found that ISPs did not just improve their ability to deliver on what they advertised, but improved the actual bottom-line speeds customers were getting.

According to the study, the average subscribed tier in the U.S. for participating ISPs in March 2011 was 11.1 megabits per second. In April 2012, that number was 14.3 megabits per second, an almost 23% increase in only a year.

Because ISPs are doing a better job of meeting or beating advertised speeds, according to the FCC report, consumer's actual speeds are up by almost 38%. The average actual speed in March of 2011 was 10.6 Mbps. In April 2012, that figure was 14.6 Mbps and speeds are increasing at a faster rate.

Other Study Takeaways:

*Faster speeds are resulting in greater overall consumption. Seven of the participating ISPs are offering speeds of 50 Mbps or greater, and four are offering at least 100 mbps.

*The next steps for the FCC to keep that ball rolling: continue to encourage boosts in speed and capacity, expand to include new technology, and continue dialog with stakeholders.