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FCC Study: ISPs Improve Delivery on Advertised Speeds

What the FCC bills as the first nationwide performace study of residential wireline broadband service found that cable operators delivered on average 93% of advertised speeds at peak periods (7 p.m. to 11 p.m.).

The study, which is being unvieled at a D.C. Best Buy Tuesday, found that "for most participating broadband providers, actual download speeds are substantially closer to advertised speeds than was found in data from early 2009," though performance can vary by provider.

The study found that DSL delivered an average 82% of download speeds, followed by cable. Fiber to the home actually outdelivered at 114% of advertised speeds.

The study of consumer's actual performance was in response to the FCC's National Broadband Plan recommendation to "obtain and publicly release detailed and accurate measurements of consumer broadband performance on a national.

The FCC's goal is to give consumers information they can use to compare service performance when they choose their Internet access providers.

On the upload side, there was little effect by peak loads, with Cable and fiber-to the home delivering 198% and 112%, respectively, followed by DSL at 95%.

The study also found that ISPs ought to be able to handle streaming video so long as the consumer chooses the right tier. "Test results suggest that video streaming should work well across all technologies tested, provided that the consumer has selected a broadband service tier that matches the quality of streaming video desired," the report found.

The study examined service from 13 of the nation's largest broadband providers that together account for approximately 86% of all wireline broadband connections, according to the FCC.

The providers measured were AT&T (DSL); Cablevision (cable); CenturyLink (DSL); Charter (cable); Comcast (cable); Cox (cable); Frontier (DSL); Mediacom (cable); Insight (cable); Qwest (DSL); TimeWarner (cable); Verizon (DSL and fiber-to-thehome); and Windstream (DSL).

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.