Most ISPs advertise the upload and download speeds of their broadband, but just how much truth is in advertising? A recent study by the FCC
aims give consumers the answer for the nation's largest providers.
The Federal Communications Commission has released the results of a year-long scientific study it conducted with regard to the upload and download speeds of thirteen American internet service providers. Among the ISPs included in the study were AT&T
, Cox, Frontier,
Verizon (Fiber), and Windstream.
Most of the ISPs hit 90 percent of their advertised upload speeds, which is good, except that the reason that the upload speeds of broadband providers are always significantly lower than their download speeds is because most people are much more concerned with how long it takes for something to download than it does to upload.
Of the 13, only four (or less than 1/3) averaged at or even above their advertised download speeds (Charter, Comcast, Cox, and Verizon Fiber). Nearly all hit about 80 percent of their promised speed. Cablevision fared the worse, with average speeds of less than 80 percent, and speeds during peak times (7 p.m. - 11 p.m. M-F) that were about 50 percent of its promised speed.
Image Source: FCC
The tests were performed by a private firm that has run similar tests in the U.K., which measured performance at 6,800 "representative homes" nationally in March. Fiber-optic services like Verizon's FiOS service did the best, while cable-based ISPs like Comcast came next. DSL-based services were the least likely to meet their advertised rates.
Image Source: FCC
Derek Turner, research director of Free Press, a nonprofit that advocates for consumers on a number of telecommunications and media issues, was critical of the results.
"The way we look at the results, most of the ISPs -- nine of the 13 -- are failing to deliver their promised speeds at all times of the day," Turner said. "If they are unable deliver on their promises, then their advertising is highly misleading."
This problem may not be as important to non-geeks, but it should: when asked to identify the service speed they were paying for, nearly 80 percent said they did not know. Meanwhile, of those who said they did know, 49 percent got it wrong. It seems that many consumers do not realize that they are not getting what they are paying for.