Marketing Gigabits: What Does It Take?

The FCC released its 2015 fixed broadband measurement report Wednesday. Among other findings, the report noted that helped by the deployment of technologies such as DOCSIS 3, the maximum advertised download speeds among the most popular service tiers offered by ISPs using cable technologies has increased from 12-30 Mbps in March 2011 to 50-105 Mbps in September 2014.  

In contrast, the maximum advertised download speeds tested among the most popular service tiers offered by ISPs using DSL technology has remained generally unchanged since 2011, the report said. “There is a growing disparity in most download speeds tested between many DSL-based broadband services and most cable-based broadband services,” it said.  The report was prepared by the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology and Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau

Meanwhile, the agency finds that the actual speeds experienced by most ISPs’ subscribers are close to or exceed the advertised speeds. “All ISPs using cable, fiber or satellite technologies advertise speeds for services that on average are close to or below the actual speeds experienced by their subscribers. However, some ISPs using DSL technologies continue to advertise ‘up-to’ speeds that on average exceed the actual speeds experienced by their subscribers,” the report said.

Actual speeds experienced by consumers may vary based on location and may vary during each day. Starting in this report, the FCC now illustrates, for each ISP, the percentage of participating consumers who experienced an actual monthly average download speed that was greater than 95%, between 80% and 95%, and less than 80% of the advertised download speed.  Even though the actual download speeds experienced by most ISPs’ subscribers are close to or exceed the advertised download speeds, for each ISP there are some panelists for whom actual download speed falls significantly short of the advertised download speed, the Commission said. Relatively few subscribers to cable, fiber, or satellite broadband service experience such shortfalls, it said. It noted latency may affect the perceived quality of interactive applications such as IP voice, IP video, or online multiplayer games. And packet loss may affect the perceived quality of applications that do not request retransmission of lost packets, such as video streaming.

“The Internet is continuing to evolve along multiple dimensions: architecture, performance, and services. We will continue to evolve our measurement methodologies to help consumers understand the performance characteristics of their broadband Internet access service, and to thus make informed choices about their use of such services,” notes the FCC.


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