FCC Report Finds Most ISPs Deliver Broadband Speeds Users Pay For

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2014-06-18 Print this article Print
FCC broadband report

A report on congestion is expected by the FCC by the end of 2014.

The FCC's study was ostensibly aimed at studying network access for consumers, but it's directly relevant to most business users. As Verizon spokesman Harry Mitchell told eWEEK, business and residential customers use the same network infrastructure. The biggest difference Mitchell noted was that businesses can obtain higher upload speeds at most service tiers. He also provided a chart showing the top business FiOS speed as 500M bps.

The FCC study also revealed that the average download speed for all of the test sites in the study was 20.2M bps. This number grows every year as people use the Internet for more and more things.

So how much does this speed growth affect your business? A lot depends on what you're doing with your Internet connection. The FCC also published a useful guide to broadband speeds that reveals most tasks don't really require much bandwidth. For example, using the broadband connection for email requires only about half a megabit per second, and even watching HD video requires only 4M bps.

But remember that those are per-person numbers. If you have 100 people doing those activities you'll need a lot of bandwidth. While it's not a straight multiple since everyone isn't doing the same thing at the same time, some activities that aren't listed, such as cloud backups, can require very fast connections in their own right.

What this really tells you are two things. The first is that you can get good communications from most ISPs as long as you don't use DSL. The second is that your end-to-end communications on the Internet may not be as fast or as reliable as you might hope because of serious congestion issues that may be beyond your ISP's control.

Until the FCC figures out a solution to the congestion issue, it's probably not best to depend on having every last megabit per second all the time. There will be times when it won't be available.

It's also worth noting that you may want to consider having more than one Internet provider available to your data center as a hedge against reliability issues that may affect one provider but not the other. While it's clear from this study that you're probably going to get the service you're paying for most of the time, it's also true, as the FCC noted in its report, "There's room for improvement."


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