FCC: US broadband customers getting half of advertised speeds

According to a report released by the FCC this week, US broadband consumers in 2009 were getting half of the download speeds advertised by their service providers. In 2009, the median advertised download speed for US customers was 7Mb/sec and the average was 8Mb/sec. The actual speeds were at 4Mb/sec average and 3Mb/sec mean. While it’s understandable that not everyone is going to get maximum speeds at all times, the FCC is coming out against service providers advertising the maximum speed to potential customers. According to the FCC, the ‘up to’ metric that all providers give does not take into account congestion, network efficiency, website performance and various other external bottlenecks that typically clog up the Internet pipes and are outside the control of the ISP.

The FCC wants to develop a better representation of effective broadband speeds to prospective customers as part of their National Broadband Plan, a directive aimed at creating a road map for faster and more streamlined broadband connections across the US. The solution will come from a consortium of the FCC, service providers, consumer groups, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The hope is that advertised speeds will reflect speed at peak hours over a baseline period of time.

The report also confirmed that a small percentage of consumer use the most bandwidth. This is illustrated by a 9GB average data consumption per month compared to a mere 2GB median. The top 1% of users consume 25% of available bandwidth. The top 10% consume 70%. 

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