Gap narrows between advertised, actual Internet service speeds, finds FCC report

Internet service providers on average are delivering 96 percent of their advertised speeds during peak usage hours, according to the findings of a report released last month by the Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Engineering and Technology and Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau.

The report, “Measuring Broadband America Report,” is a follow on to last year’s report by the agency, which found that in August 2011 the ISPs were only delivering 87 percent of their advertised speeds during peak usage between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. on weekdays.

The report also compared advertised vs. actual sustained download speeds by technology. It found during peak hours that DSL-based services on average delivered 84 percent of the advertised speed. Cable-based services delivered 99 percent of the advertised speed, and fiber-to-the-home services provided 117 percent of the advertised speeds. The previous year’s report found the download vs. advertised speeds to be 82 percent for DSL, 93 percent for cable-based service and 114 percent of fiber.

Regardless of the technology in use, the quality of streaming video will be affected by the speed tier in use, the report said. The report pointed out that SD video is normally transmitted at 1Mb/s to 2Mb/s, which compares the 5Mb/s or more needed to transmit a single 1080p HD video. The report advised consumers to match the tier of service they select to the speed required for the type of video streaming they intend to do.

The FCC report also examined the gap between the high and the low of average peak period download speeds. It found the high to be 120 percent of advertised speed and the low to be at 77 percent of the advertised speed. This is “a dramatic improvement” from the findings last year when the high was 114 percent of the advertised speed and the low was 54 percent, it said.

The report also found improvement in the delivered vs. advertised download speed between the ISPs’ 24-hour average and their peak period average. This year, there was a 3 percent decrease in performance between the 24 hour and peak averages vs. last year when the figure stood at 6 percent, the report said.