It turns out cable operators were nearly perfect at
delivering on advertised broadband speeds. That is according to the FCC's
second study on advertised and actual speeds based on data from top ISPs, a
study that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski dubbed the most comprehensive and
rigorous assessment ever of broadband speeds and performance.
Testing for the study was conducted in April 2012, and the
FCC said Thursday the bottom line was "striking, across-the board"
Cable operators delivered 99% of those advertised speeds at
peak periods, according to the FCC's just-released residential broadband speed
survey, up from 93% in 2011. Cablevision actually delivered 120% of advertised
download speeds to top the list of cable ISPS, and over 100% of upload speeds.
In fact, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski singled out the
company in remarks at the Thursday public meeting at which the study was
unveiled, saying it had gone from a broadband speed "outlier" in the
2011 study (delivering 54% of advertised download speeds) to one of the
performance leaders this time around. He was also making the point that the
FCC's release of that initial study was one of the reasons for the improvements
in the 2012 study over 2011.
Mediacom was another cable standout, delivering 100% of
advertised download speeds and almost 120% of upload speeds.
Commissioner Robert McDowell pointed out that the survey did
not include wireless broadband and said that needed to be made clear to
consumers and rectified. Genachowski said the commission was working on it and
agreed that mobile broadband info was needed as well. McDowell said the report
was an encouraging sign of a competitive marketplace and that it was important
not to do anything to discourage the private capital investments that drive
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel agreed that the study
needed to be expanded, and said that the study should do more than shine light
on the speeds. Consumers needed to be able understand those speeds and what
they mean for accessing an HD video stream, developing a website, logging into
a teleconference or playing a video game.
Commissioner Ajit Pai said that they key question was
whether consumers were getting what they had paid for, and the answer was a
Genachowski agreed that the key to the study was giving
consumers information to help them make smart choices. But he was not resting
on his laurels, however. He said there was still room for faster speeds and
lower per-gigabyte prices.
Cable participants in the study included Cablevision,
Charter, Cox, Mediacom, and Time Warner Cable, with Genachowski saying that
more than a million subs conducted speed tests using FCC-supplied apps.