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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They should list which ISP they are talking about. Comcast for what I pay is fantastic. I've downloaded an 8GB dual layered image in less than 2hrs even during the day.

it all depends on where you do your speedtest too also.
read your contracts, and they'll tell you that you're guaranteed "X"mb "in network".

seems funny to me, some people screaming and complaining about slow internet from their providers, when it's not the providers, it's traffic out in the internet that's slowing it down.

FCC Blah blah always talking wanting this that blah blah nothing happened so far, I'm so tired of FCC's bs and reports while nothing is being done.

Sorry for my poor English. I live in Belarus, and my ISP Beltelecom give me down speed of 4Mbsp (4 megabits) and upload speed of 512kbps (kilibits) thats for 50$ a month with unlimited traffic. Actual speed is 480kb (kilobytes) when downloading something with utorrent.

I have Roadrunner 7mb/down and I usually get between 3 and 5.. and its either them or DSL which I will never touch..

I live an hour from the nearest FiOS why did Verizon have to put a freeze on new development????

I've got Time Warner Cable's 60 dollar 3 Mb internet. There's no damage, kinks or any feedback lines messing me up, and my real speed is about 1.1 very poor... they're the only service provider in San Marino of California.

LOL this reminds of when I first started torrenting way back when i first got cable modem. The tech said our house used 80% of the bandwidth of the entire neighborhood!

You know what I bet would fix this? More government buraucracy and mandates.

Seriously folks, if your ISP doesn't give you the service advertised, complain and get a refund for the portion of the advertised service they don't deliver. If they refuse, switch.

If you can't switch just start your own ISP with other disgrunteled customers as investors (that last bit is a trick, there's so much regulatory overhead that you pretty much have to already be a big corporation to think about the legal fees to guide you through the paperwork).

Neb Okla said,
You know what I bet would fix this? More government buraucracy and mandates.

Seriously folks, if your ISP doesn't give you the service advertised, complain and get a refund for the portion of the advertised service they don't deliver. If they refuse, switch.

If you can't switch just start your own ISP with other disgrunteled customers as investors (that last bit is a trick, there's so much regulatory overhead that you pretty much have to already be a big corporation to think about the legal fees to guide you through the paperwork).

Yeah right, try competing against Comcast and at&t with their billions and all the politicians in their pockets. You would never get off the ground.

Americans just don't get that capitalism is ruled by BIG BUSINESS.

Neb Okla said,
You know what I bet would fix this? More government buraucracy and mandates.

Seriously folks, if your ISP doesn't give you the service advertised, complain and get a refund for the portion of the advertised service they don't deliver. If they refuse, switch.

If you can't switch just start your own ISP with other disgrunteled customers as investors (that last bit is a trick, there's so much regulatory overhead that you pretty much have to already be a big corporation to think about the legal fees to guide you through the paperwork).

rofl, Comcast sucks at my place. We get disconnected all the time, even after calling and complaining, and a cable modem replacement.

We looked into switching, we found we had two other options: dialup or satellite. No other cable company provides to my area. Monopolies suck don't they??

Boeing 787 said,
Americans just don't get that capitalism is ruled by BIG BUSINESS.
As opposed to being ruled by big government? Either way 'the people' lose.

Tim Dawg said,
As opposed to being ruled by big government? Either way 'the people' lose.

I think the point is that the rich powerful companies buy politicians off and stifle competition.

Educated Idiot said,
I knew something was screwed up. To think, all this time the ISP told me it's "something wrong on my end".
Of course. They realize that 97% of the population believes that and has no way of arguing with them. My favorite is when I get on the line with someone and have already done all of the troubleshooting and metrics ahead of time and end up losing the guy on the other end of the line. LOL. I'm thinking, "shouldn't you know this better than me?"

ISPs should show a package to the regulator, then they regulator independently tests it and tells the ISP what they can advertise it at.

My cable from Cox is about full speed most of the time, it's mostly slow sites that do it in for me, or a free throttled site. Sometimes the dinky PowerBoost kicks in and it's faster than rated.

ir0nw0lf said,
My cable from Cox is about full speed most of the time, it's mostly slow sites that do it in for me, or a free throttled site. Sometimes the dinky PowerBoost kicks in and it's faster than rated.

I wouldn't pull a cable from Cox if I were you

I get 25Mbps down and 2.6Mbps up with Comcast. My dad originally paid for 6Mbps but overtime as Comcast upgraded their servers, they upgraded our speeds for free as well. First From 6 to 12 then from 12 to 22/24. I'm quite happy with the service here myself. Just sucks having a 250GB cap.

Speed results: http://www.dslreports.com/im/91274708/68992.png

svnO.o said,
I get 25Mbps down and 2.6Mbps up with Comcast. My dad originally paid for 6Mbps but overtime as Comcast upgraded their servers, they upgraded our speeds for free as well. First From 6 to 12 then from 12 to 22/24. I'm quite happy with the service here myself. Just sucks having a 250GB cap.

Speed results: http://www.dslreports.com/im/91274708/68992.png

I hope Comcast does the same....in my area they are soon adding a 100MB down tier (for businesses at least, their current highest here is 50MB down), hope they upgrade the lower tiers and I get a free upgrade from 16/2MB to 20/3MB.....as it is a business class service, I have no bandwidth cap.

This is nothing. In Britain, we only get about 25% of the advertised speed, if I recall correctly. I only get 1 Mb/s when I should get 8!

Meph said,
This is nothing. In Britain, we only get about 25% of the advertised speed, if I recall correctly. I only get 1 Mb/s when I should get 8!

I am no mathematician or anything but isn't 1 out of 8 only 12.5% ?

Meph said,
This is nothing. In Britain, we only get about 25% of the advertised speed, if I recall correctly. I only get 1 Mb/s when I should get 8!

People think they're receiving about 25% of the advertised speed because they assume an 'up to' 8Mb line is going to deliver somewhere near 8Mb. They don't take into account the line length/quality, probably because they don't know enough about how ADSL works, which is fair enough, but makes figures like the ones your plucking from god know's where look misleading.

If you know for sure you should be getting 8Mb then why aren't you complaining to your ISP?

I get 50-60% of the advertised speed on an 'up to' 24Mb service although realistically I doubt there are many people getting upwards of 80% (~20Mb) of the advertised speed on a 24Mb service.

2GB per month median? sheesh, my cable modem sitting idle uses 2.3 GB a month just talking to the CMTS and ARP traffic going on the WAN port, and sadly Comcast counts that data against our 250GB per month soft cap...... just before I moved into my new house I set up the internet and a router only let it sit there for a month unused, no Wifi no ethernet connections to it, it accumulated 2.3 GB of just "noise" traffic from the CMTS, Broadcast traffic, etc......

vice le von said,

Are you on 56k? lucky ******! cuz I can only get 28k
Oh that's painful. Time to move. I was talking to one of the travelling salesmen at a client today and he told me he's still on dial-up too. I said, "no you're not" figuring there's no possible way this could be true until he told me where he lived and I saw the actual dial-up software on his laptop. I then realized he was telling the truth. All I can say is "ouch".

Tim Dawg said,
Oh that's painful. Time to move. I was talking to one of the travelling salesmen at a client today and he told me he's still on dial-up too. I said, "no you're not" figuring there's no possible way this could be true until he told me where he lived and I saw the actual dial-up software on his laptop. I then realized he was telling the truth. All I can say is "ouch".

Well, he could use Satellite and pay out the arse. That works with dial up. Had it for a couple of years when my town was really considered remote outside of the Twin Cities.

Hey, that's better than most of the UK. Fortunately, I'm not in that category. I get the full advertised 50Mb all the time. Virgin Media FTW!

MightyJordan said,
Hey, that's better than most of the UK. Fortunately, I'm not in that category. I get the full advertised 50Mb all the time. Virgin Media FTW!

Lucky for some, I have the same package and only get 20mb/s

I guess yall arn't on FiOS, who recently stated that users are getting more just becuase "there network is that good". I pay for 20/5, and im getting 27/5. Long live Verizon FiOS.

Klownicle said,
I guess yall arn't on FiOS, who recently stated that users are getting more just becuase "there network is that good". I pay for 20/5, and im getting 27/5. Long live Verizon FiOS.

I used to have FiOS when I was in the Verizon area and I must say I miss the speed. ATT does not have U-Verse in this area

WhoTheF said,
I used to have FiOS when I was in the Verizon area and I must say I miss the speed. ATT does not have U-Verse in this area
Is U-Verse really that good? My neighbor has it and loves it but I hesitate to get it. I'm not a fan of AT&T at all considering their massive iPhone network issues. I realize it's a different division, different network, different people, etc. however if the methodology of a company is such that they aren't willing to make the necessary investments in their network to protect their prize (the iPhone) then I'm not sure if I want to use or rely on them at all.

I am definitely in the top. My ethernet jack is my PVR.
I'm around 100GB/month down.

I pay for 10Mbit/s here in canada, and can usually achieve those speeds on a sustained basis.

dotf said,
I am definitely in the top. My ethernet jack is my PVR.
I'm around 100GB/month down.

I pay for 10Mbit/s here in canada, and can usually achieve those speeds on a sustained basis.


I am so happy to be back in the Netherlands after having lived in Montreal for a year (at least, internet-wise). In Canada I downloaded around 100GB/month as well, because of the download limits. Now here in NL I have a 80/10Mbit connection and no download limit, which is going to be upgraded to 120/10 in December. Divine. Price? 64 euro / month, including HD TV and telephony.

RuuddieBoy said,

I am so happy to be back in the Netherlands after having lived in Montreal for a year (at least, internet-wise). In Canada I downloaded around 100GB/month as well, because of the download limits. Now here in NL I have a 80/10Mbit connection and no download limit, which is going to be upgraded to 120/10 in December. Divine. Price? 64 euro / month, including HD TV and telephony.
What the heck are you downloading where you're using that much bandwidth and bumping up against caps? There are only so many 'movie rentals' you can download and fit into any single given day.

Good for the FCC, they want customers to know what they can actually expect as opposed to what they MIGHT get.

Comcast is coming out today to hook up 16/2 business class for my business (which also runs up to my apt.), hopefully I get halfway decent speeds, I live in a small town and the line comes straight from the box they have on the power lines to my business, so it should be fairly decent compared to normal residential lines. Hopefully I do not get screwed over getting only half my speed.....but network congestion shouldn't be an issue based on this area.

roadwarrior said,
I actually get what my ISP advertizes, pretty much all of the time.

Same here. I have the highest available speed from Comcast and can get that speed consistently. When I didn't, it was a bad cable modem and I got it replaced within 24 hrs. I also had no problems previously with AT&T U-Verse.

Now my office has some AT&T fiber/dsl type service with VPN and they pay for 6, but get 2. They try to write it off as other devices on our network taking up bandwidth, but knowing the complete infrastructure of the office, that's a lie. Just like when our corporate outsourced IT tells people that all of their problems are because they upgraded to IE8. A cop out, nothing more.

roadwarrior said,
I actually get what my ISP advertizes, pretty much all of the time.

Same here... Uverse... I actually ran a speedtest and got 13Mbps when my cap is 12 so no complaints here!

chisss said,

Same here... Uverse... I actually ran a speedtest and got 13Mbps when my cap is 12 so no complaints here!
That can be pretty common with providers like Comcast or Time Warner/Roadrunner who utilize technologies to boost your download speeds for the first few MB of a download. Essentially, you pay for 10Mb/s (for what I had in SC) but speedtests almost always showed around 15-16Mb/s down, however, if I actually started a large download and let it run for a few minutes, it would actually download at a max of around 9.5-10MB/s which is pretty close to my advertised.

To get a true speed test you need to download a large file over time, otherwise you are just seeing a temporary boost that will not last for large files. That is, unless you know for a fact your provider does not use such technology.

That being said, as long as a web server could handle uploading at 1-1.2MB/s, I could max my download speed 90% of the time with Time Warner/Roadrunner, hopefully Comcast is as good in this area as RR was where I previously lived.

chisss said,

Same here... Uverse... I actually ran a speedtest and got 13Mbps when my cap is 12 so no complaints here!

No issues with U-verse here on the 18Mbps plan either at about 3000 ft from the VRAD.

I can say however that AT&T DSL seldom gives you the actual speed that you want. I actually went through quite a bit with AT&T about it not too long ago. It turns out that they have a range that they consider "acceptable." I think for the 3Mbps plan it's anywhere down to 1.5 Mbps until they'll try to fix it.

I get amused when companies also say that because you're using an non-IE browser, your speeds will be slow. I've had AT&T say that to me actually... I was like "pfft"

@Troll: It's possible that having so many devices causes that big of a slow down, however having that big of a slowdown is really off putting as well. It shouldn't be that bad at all...
I'd actually recommend calling and reporting it, and if that doesn't get you anywhere try posting in the AT&T Direct forum at dslreports.com

@Nagisan: U-verse does not utilize any data rate shapers like Comcast's PowerBoost. You get what you get (for me a constant 1.9 MBps that occasionally pops up to 2.1)

roadwarrior said,
I actually get what my ISP advertizes, pretty much all of the time.

Same here with Comcast, although I heard they were rolling out some sort of bandwidth limiter for Torrent and other protocols around peak times.

chisss said,

Same here... Uverse... I actually ran a speedtest and got 13Mbps when my cap is 12 so no complaints here!

mind speedtest is not perfect - you can even get 200mbit in result when actually having just 20 - large fundamental calculation errors. a lot of their servers are also limited in bandwidth.

briangw said,

Same here with Comcast, although I heard they were rolling out some sort of bandwidth limiter for Torrent and other protocols around peak times.

Yeah that's why they're in hot water with the FCC.

Well them and every other ISP looking to put a cap on BT traffic. I'm just surprised the FCC is actually doing something that is going to benefit consumers in a real, tangible, and measurable manner. Between fair use and this I'm thinking of becoming an FCC groupie!

Neobond said,
THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!

Especially when it's true with my already slow ISP. I have 1.5 mbps DSL out where a network shouldn't be congested at all (20 miles out of a small town in Montana). On a good day, I'll be getting almost my full 183 KB/s for a few hours. On bad ones, it'll be fluctuating between 30 KB/s and 90 KB/s. The rest of the time it's about 120.

I mean, what can you do to DSL to make it so slow?

Recon415 said,

Especially when it's true with my already slow ISP. I have 1.5 mbps DSL out where a network shouldn't be congested at all (20 miles out of a small town in Montana). On a good day, I'll be getting almost my full 183 KB/s for a few hours. On bad ones, it'll be fluctuating between 30 KB/s and 90 KB/s. The rest of the time it's about 120.

I mean, what can you do to DSL to make it so slow?

DSL loses speed the further away from the control center you get.

treemonster said,
DSL loses speed the further away from the control center you get.

I'm actually pretty close to it, so they say.

Mike Frett said,
They tell me the limit is 5 miles for DSL..sooo i dunno.

The technical limit is 18000 feet or about 3.5 Miles. Depending on the line quality, equipment used in the central office substation, and other factors they can push it out further sometimes but you are most likely going to get 512Kbit at best.

treemonster said,
DSL loses speed the further away from the control center you get.

Wrong. That user has a legitimate issue with speed that is unrelated to how far away they are from their wiring location. They should be contacting the ISP and complaining. My ISP has a 80% guarantee guideline. Any lower and they do what they need to in order to get it fixed.