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FCC Report: Broadband Speeds Up, But Service Disparities Present

The FCC has released its fifth “Measuring Broadband America” report, which studies the nationwide performance of consumers’ fixed broadband Internet access service.

WASHINGTON�The FCC has released its fifth �Measuring Broadband America� report, which studies the nationwide performance of consumers� fixed broadband Internet access service. The report indicates that broadband speed offerings are increasing at a rapid pace for the average consumer, with services typically meeting or exceeding the advertised speeds. The report does find, however, that there is a disparity between many DSL-based broadband services and cable and fiber-based services.

According to the FCC�s report, maximum advertised speeds across all participating ISPs increased from 37.2 Mbps as of September 2013 to 72 Mbps in September 2014, an increase of 94 percent. The maximum advertised download speed offered by ISPs using cable systems has increased from 12-20 Mbps in March 2011 to 50-105 Mbps in September 2014; according to the FCC, this is due in large part to technologies like DOCSIS 3.

DSL speed offerings have not been able to produce similar growth. The report indicates that while average DSL consumer speeds have increased, popular maximum DSL speed offerings have been stagnant since 2011, with most offering download rates of 12 Mbps or less. A plus for DSL services though is that they advertise speeds that are on average exceeding in actual use by consumers, while ISPs using cable, fiber or satellite are more likely to just meet advertised speeds.

Another facet of the report showed that consumers with access to faster services are actually more likely to migrate to a higher service. Panelists who had service tiers that advertised between 15 and 30 Mbps in September 2013 migrated at a higher rate in 2014 when a higher service was offered. Those in 2013 who had services with less than 15 Mbps saw only a small percent migrate within the year.

The report also shows that there was some discrepancy between the amount of latency or packet loss between technologies. DSL, cable and fiber systems offered generally low latency, while satellite services offered higher latency, specifically on services like VoIP calls, video chat and multiplayer games. DSL was the odd man out when it comes to packet loss, however, affecting the quality of video chat, multiplayer games and video streaming.

The FCC released its first �Measuring Broadband America� report in August of 2011. This most recent report covers data collected in September 2014. This was also the first time that the report included regional and state analysis, as well as an expanded focus on speed consistency.

To read the complete report, click here.