The Federal Communications Commission released the results of its sixth “Measuring Broadband America” report. The report furthers the Commission’s efforts to provide greater transparency about network performance to help consumers make more informed choices about their Internet Service Provider.
This year’s report shows that broadband speed offerings to the average consumer continue to increase at a rapid pace, and broadband service providers generally are delivering actual speeds that meet or exceed advertised speeds.
However, results are not uniform across technologies. The report finds a growing disparity in advertised download speeds between many DSL-based broadband services and most cable- and fiber-based broadband services. Average DSL speeds have increased only slightly over the past five years and satellite speeds, over a shorter time interval, have remained constant.
Significant growth in advertised broadband speeds available to consumers, though the results are not uniform across technologies.
The median download speed, averaged across all participating ISPs, has almost quadrupled, from approximately 10 Mbps in March 2011, to approximately 39 Mbps in September 2015. Compared to last year’s value of 32 Mbps, this year’s median download speed was an increase of approximately 22%.
Over the course of our reports, the average annual increase in median download speeds by technology 47% for cable, and 14% for fiber, while popular DSL speeds have remained largely the same. The maximum advertised download speed among the most popular service tiers using cable technologies, increased from 20-30 Mpbs in March 2011 to 100-300 Mpbs in September 2015.
Actual speeds experienced by most consumers meet or exceed advertised speeds.
All ISPs using cable, fiber or satellite technologies advertise speeds for services that on average are close to the actual speeds experienced by their subscribers. Fixed cable and fiber broadband customers experienced speeds that were 100% or better than advertised. However, the actual speeds experienced by subscribers of some ISPs satellite technologies were lower on average than the advertised “up-to” speeds for their respective providers.
Consumers with access to faster services continue to migrate to higher service tiers.
Data shows that panelists subscribed in September 2014 to service tiers with advertised download speeds between 15 Mbps to 50 Mbps are the most likely to have migrated towards higher service tiers. In contrast, among panelists subscribed in September 2014 to service tiers with advertised download speeds of less than 15 Mbps – offered mostly by DSL services – only a few percent migrated within the following year to a service tier with a higher download speed.