An FCC report shows broadband service providers are offering faster Internet speeds and more accurate bandwidth indicators.
Internet service providers have significantly improved the accuracy in actual versus advertised speeds during the past year, and consumers are subscribing to faster speed tiers and receiving faster speeds than ever before, according to the Federal Communications Commissions second Measuring Broadband America report, a nationwide performance study of residential wireline broadband service.
The July report, which reflects data collected from participating broadband providers in April 2012, found significant improvement in the accuracy of broadband providers promises of performance and the speed tier and receiving of faster broadband speeds. The FCC report found that the average speed tier that consumers were subscribing to increased from 11.1M bps to 14.3 M bps, an almost 30 percent increase in just one year. During the time period measured for the July 2012 report, the advertised download speed accuracy level rose to 96 percent, up from 87 percent from the prior year.
Millions of Americans have improved broadband performance. This is good news for consumers and the economy, but we need to keep pushing for faster broadband speeds and greater capacity, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said in prepared remarks. Bandwidth abundance is essential to driving innovation and unleashing the benefits of broadband, including increased education, health care and job-creation opportunities across the country.
The FCC noted that because providers also did a better job in the testing period for this report of meeting or exceeding their advertised speeds, the actual increase in experienced speeds by consumers was even greater than advertised speed, from 10.6M bps to 14.6M bps, representing an almost 38 percent improvement over the one-year period. The increase in performance indicators suggests the country is moving closer to the goals set out in the National Broadband Project (NBP) that at least 100 million homes should have affordable access to actual download speeds of at least 50M bps by 2015, and 100M bps by 2020.
The report is part of a series of initiatives that draw upon cooperation between the FCC, the broadband industry and other stakeholders to promote transparency and ensure that consumers get the information they need to make informed marketplace decisions, according to an FCC statement. Broader access to fast broadband will encourage the expansion and adoption of cloud computing, more productive telecommuting, online education, telemedicine and more, the report noted.
FCC analysis indicates that the improvements of ISPs in meeting their advertised speeds were largely driven by improvements in network performance, and not downward adjustments to the speed tiers offered. Expansion in high-speed networks across the country will provide economic opportunities, increase civic engagement, deliver on the promise of better access to health care and online learning, and help fuel the development of a smart power grid and a more highly interactive and responsive public safety network, the report concluded.
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.