Internet Providers Meet the Need for Speed

Last year, the FCC noted that 80 percent of consumers did not know the speed of their broadband connection, but 91 percent were nonetheless satisfied with service. A new FCC finding on broadband service sheds some light on why: Internet speeds generally reach within 20 percent of their advertised rate even during peak usage hours, with some providers far exceeding it.

Breaking service out by technology, cable providers deliver 93 percent of advertised download speeds on average – even during peak use evening hours – with companies that have implemented DOCSIS 3.0 faring better. And fiber service delivered a whopping 114% of advertised speeds with Verizon leading the pack.  Unsurprisingly, upload speeds were even stronger, with throughput often exceeding advertised rates.

The report comes as a blow to the Commission’s prior claims, including a study last year that “actual download speeds experienced by U.S. consumers lag advertised speeds by roughly 50%.” Mention of this prior finding is notably absent in the FCC’s report. Equally absent is any mention of strong consumer satisfaction that renders these studies essentially pointless.

But before the FCC even showed its findings, it took care to repeatedly note that consumers are largely unaware of what broadband speed they’ve purchased. GASP! That’s because this number is relatively unimportant for consumers. The average consumer subscribes to 5 Mbps broadband service. That’s enough throughput to watch a streaming video, check email, download an e-book, make a VoIP phone call, and stream music – all at the same time. The fact that download speeds largely meet (and sometimes exceed) advertised speeds during peak usage hours only further shows why consumers are satisfied with service. And for those that do want to check on their service, the free-market had already provided plenty of options.