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FCC Unveils New Research Measuring Broadband Performance

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Released: August 2, 2011

FCC Unveils New Research that Measured Broadband Performance; Continues

Consumer Empowerment Campaign to Help Americans Choose the Right

Broadband Service Package at Home

As part of its intensive ongoing efforts to expand access, promote adoption, and spur innovation
through broadband, the FCC conducted the first nationwide test of residential wireline broadband
service. The result is today's report, "Measuring Broadband America Plan" first proposed in the National Broadband

, which takes major steps to empower consumers and enhance
competition in the home broadband services marketplace. As part of this effort, the FCC today
unveiled new consumer resources to help Americans take the confusion and mystery out of
choosing the speed they need, including a step-by-step guide.


Consumer confusion about different broadband service packages is high.

A recent FCC survey
found that 80 percent of consumers did not know what speed they purchased from their
Internet Service Provider (ISP).

And even if consumers examine their bills, details about
broadband speed often remains unclear.

In conjunction with the report as well as the data set, the FCC has released new consumer
education resources
to help Americans understand broadband speeds, assess their home needs, choose the right
package and continuously evaluate broadband performance. This builds on previous work by the
FCC to empower consumers against bill shock, cramming, and to educate parents about the
benefits and risks of location-based services.

By continuing to shine a spotlight on actual versus advertised speeds, the FCC is ensuring
accountability, increasing transparency and enhancing competition in the marketplace. If
consumers make informed choices, companies will likely invest in new products, services and
business models to compete more aggressively and offer greater value.

Researchers and developers will have access to the report's entire dataset, which can spur
innovation and job creation, leading to new applications and online services.


For most major broadband providers, actual speeds are generally 80%-90% of advertised speeds
or better, although performance varies by technology and service provider.

Even during peak usage periods--between 7:00 pm and 11:00 pm on weeknights, when more
home users are online and service quality declines--most major broadband providers deliver
actual speeds that are 80% of advertised speeds or better.

That's significantly better than a study of 2009 broadband performance in the U.S. and a recent
study of broadband performance in the UK, both of which found actual speeds were roughly 50%
of advertised.

All technologies measured DSL, cable, and fiber-to-the-home broadband can deliver good
service to consumers depending on their needs.

While download speed is the major factor affecting service performance, upload speed and
latency (lag time in transmitting data) also matter for some applications.

Increased speed improves performance, but with some limits. For basic Web browsing--viewing
web pages but not downloading or streaming online video--performance improves as speeds
increase, but only up to ~10 Mbps. However, high-demand applications like video conferencing,
HD video streaming, gaming, or multiple activities occurring within one household may benefit
from very high speeds.


Unprecedented collaboration between the FCC and 13 Internet service providers (ISPs),1
academic researchers from MIT and Georgia Tech, technology vendors and consumer groups.

Participating ISPs account for 86 percent of all U.S. wireline broadband subscribers.

Used high standards of sampling and statistical analysis to select 6800 representative homes for

1 Participating ISPs were: AT&T; Cablevision; CenturyLink; Charter; Comcast; Cox; Frontier; Mediacom; Insight; Qwest; TimeWarner; Verizon; and

Conducted 13 different tests in each home, multiple times per day, over several months, to
produce more than 4 billion data points from more than 100 million tests of broadband

Measured speed and performance as broadband is delivered to the home before service is
affected by equipment, home networks, or other factors so that different service providers and
technologies can be compared scientifically.

Note: We are currently transitioning our documents into web compatible formats for easier reading. We have done our best to supply this content to you in a presentable form, but there may be some formatting issues while we improve the technology. The original version of the document is available as a PDF, Word Document, or as plain text.


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