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FCC Releases Fourth "Measuring Broadband America" Report

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Released: June 18, 2014
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NEWS

Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

445 12th Street, S.W.

Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

Washington, D. C. 20554

TTY: 1-888-835-5322

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.

See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NEWS MEDIA CONTACT:

June 18, 2014 Kim Hart, (202) 418-8191

Email: Kim.Hart@fcc.gov

FCC RELEASES FOURTH “MEASURING BROADBAND AMERICA” REPORT

NATIONWIDE TEST OF FIXED BROADBAND SERVICES REVEALS THAT WHILE MOST

ISPs MEET OR EXCEED SPEEDS THEY ADVERTISE, SOME BROADBAND PROVIDERS

SHOW SIGNIFICANT ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

Washington, D.C. – The Federal Communications Commission today released the results of its ongoing

nationwide performance study of residential broadband service in its fourth “Measuring Broadband

America” report. The report continues the Commission’s efforts towards bringing greater clarity and

competition to the home broadband services marketplace. This year’s report reveals that most broadband

providers continue to improve service performance by delivering actual speeds that meet or exceed

advertised speeds during the past year, but some providers showed significant room for improvement,

particularly with respect to consistency of speeds.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, “Consumers deserve to get what they pay for. While it’s encouraging

to see that in the past these reports have encouraged providers to improve their services, I’m concerned

that some providers are failing to deliver consistent speeds to consumers that are commensurate to their

advertised speeds. As a result, I’ve directed FCC staff to write to the underperforming companies to ask

why this happened and what they will do to solve this.”

This year’s report highlights five evolving trends:

1. ISPs continue to deliver the combined upload/download speeds they advertise, but a new metric

this year – consistency of speeds – shows there’s still work to be done: This year’s report shows that

average speeds are close to advertised, but not always available. Cablevision, for example, delivered 100

percent or better of advertised speed to 80 percent of our panelists 80 percent of the time during peak

periods, but about half the ISPs delivered about 90 percent or better of advertised speed, and several ISPs

delivered less than 60 percent or better of advertised speeds 80 percent of the time to 80 percent of the

panelists. This is the first time we have included a metric designed to convey how likely any given

consumer is to experience broadband speeds of a particular level or greater. We expect ISPs to improve

upon consistency over the course of the next year and we will focus on this issue in the future.

2. Download speeds performance varies by service tier, with some ISPs delivering less than 80

percent of advertised speeds: All ISPs except for one (Qwest, which had a 16 percent performance

improvement in download speed) were within 10 percent of last year’s results, i.e. largely unchanged.

Overall trends were encouraging. For download speeds, ten of 14 reporting ISPs showed slightly

improved download performance, four were virtually unchanged and only one ISP (Verizon offering DSL

service) showed results slightly worse than last year. However, Windstream’s 1.5 Mbps speed tier only

delivers 78 percent of advertised speeds, a low among all ISPs at all speed tiers.

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3. Fiber and Cable technologies continue to evolve to higher speed offerings, but DSL is beginning

to lag behind: Additionally, while providers using cable and fiber access technologies generally met or

exceeded their advertised tiers, providers using DSL technology generally failed to meet their advertised

speeds. This may indicate differences in the economics of upgrading DSL relative to other technologies,

and investment choices by broadband providers or the price points at which higher speeds are made

available for DSL. For example, DSL can require structural or plant upgrades to achieve higher speeds

while cable or fiber can upgrade with incremental investments in the electronics. We fully expect

providers to make the necessary investments to ensure that the service they deliver is consistent with what

they advertise to consumers.

4. Consumers continue to migrate to higher speed tiers: We continue to see a migration of consumers

from lower speed tiers to higher offerings both by consumers electing to purchase higher speeds and

through upgrades of standard offerings by Internet service providers. A simple average of service tiers

surveyed in 2013 shows an average advertised speed of 21.2 Mbps, representing an increase of

approximately 36 percent from 15.6 Mbps in 2012.

5. Upload speeds vary sharply: Many studies have shown that consumer Internet traffic today is

asymmetric – consumers typically download far more data than they upload. Consistent with that

behavior, most service offerings typically have far higher download than upload rates. With this in mind,

we note that one ISP (Verizon) offers upload rates as high as 35 Mbps and one (Frontier) offers upload

rates of 25 Mbps, more than twice that of the next ISP. Verizon and Frontier use fiber based services and

have offered these high upload speeds during the course of our program. With the exception of these two

service providers, no other provider in the study offers rates that are higher than 10 Mbps.

Network Congestion

The study uncovered network congestion at certain interconnection points during the report’s reporting

period. Although that data is not included in the findings of the report, the FCC will make this data fully

available with the report for the public to review and analyze. The FCC is also taking steps to better

understand the issues that presented themselves, including by analyzing network impact on video service

providers such as YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix and others and requesting more information from ISPs and

video providers about peering issues. We are working to develop tools that measure and validate how

these types of congestion issues affect the consumer experience. We expect to have instituted additional

testing methodologies providing more information on network congestion and peering by winter 2014.

About the Measuring Broadband America Report

The FCC released the first Measuring Broadband America Report in August 2011. That report covered

data collected in March 2011 and found that most broadband providers who participated in the study were

providing over 80 percent of advertised speeds during peak usage periods. The FCC’s second report,

released July 2012, included data collected from participating broadband providers in April 2012, and

found that ISPs on average delivered 96 percent of advertised download speed during peak usage period.

The FCC’s third report included results on satellite technology for the first time based on test results from

ViaSat, a major satellite services provider, and showed significant improvements had been made to

satellite broadband technology service quality.

The FCC began measuring broadband performance in response to recommendations in the National

Broadband Plan. Since then, by continuing to shine a spotlight on actual versus advertised speeds, the

FCC is ensuring accountability, increasing transparency and enhancing competition in the marketplace.

The report is part of a comprehensive series of initiatives that draw upon cooperation between the

Commission, industry, and other stakeholders to promote transparency and ensure that consumers get the

information they need to make informed marketplace decisions.

To read the complete 2014 Measuring Broadband America report, visit

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www.fcc.gov/measuring-broadband-america. A consumer guide to broadband speeds can be found here:

http://www.fcc.gov/guides/broadband-speed-guide

- FCC –

News and information about the Federal Communications Commission is available at www.fcc.gov

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