(Not a) surprise: Google Fiber is Netflix's fastest ISP

Google started installing its 1 Gbps Google Fiber Internet service to the first subscribers in Kansas City, Kansas last month, and it was not a surprise to learn that in the real world, it was still pretty darn fast compared to your typical cable or DSL connection. Now Netflix, which uses more bandwidth than any other single online service in the US, has confirmed that Google Fiber is indeed the fastest ISP in the country.

In a post on the Netflix blog, the company posted up its ISP speed comparison chart, and announced that it would be posting these statistics every month from now on. Google Fiber has a 2.55 Mbps average speed for Netflix streaming, well ahead of the second place finisher, Verizon FiOS, which had a 2.19 average in November.

But wait; shouldn't the Google Fiber speed be a lot higher than 2.55 Mbps? In its blog, Netflix said:

The average performance is well below the peak performance due to a variety of factors including home Wi-Fi, a variety of devices, and a variety of encodes. The relative ranking, however, should be an accurate indicator of relative bandwidth typically experienced across all users, homes, and applications.

It's not a shock to learn AT&T's wireless network was dead last on the Netflix list with speeds of .48 Mbps, well below that of Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. We also suspect that Google Fiber will keep its top listing on Netflix's ISP streaming list for some time to come.

Source: Neflix blog | Image via Netflix

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At least Cabelvision's getting there.

I'm so jealous of Kansas though, that'd be the perfect ISP for me to host off my Mac.

And yet, due to the nature of this list, it's meaningless to everyone. Performance and availability vary from location to location, device to device, configuration to configuration. With the mind-boggling number of factors that will affect the performance you, the individual, will experience on any one of these providers, it's not only impossible, but unreasonable to make a purchasing decision based on this chart.

Google Fiber no doubt gets a lot of help from the fact that it has significantly fewer factors impacting it, compared to everyone else on the list. If any other broadband provider developed within the same regional limitation, I'm sure it would also have a more "consistent" user experience.

Not hating. Just injecting some reality.

/Also, considering these appear to be megabits, I suspect 4G wireless is not represented for any of the major carriers. If it is, it's averaged to hell by 3G speeds--and anyone who judges their wireless carrier by how Netflix performs over anything less than 4G isn't making educated purchasing decisions in the first place.

Edited by Joshie, Dec 12 2012, 1:08am :

You definitely have a point. I've only been able to reach 6MB/s on Torrents, heck I can only get 2MB from PC2PC, I can't win!

Now that I look at the source itself, I can't tell whether it's megabits or megabytes. They don't bother writing it out in the actual post (where I can judge by whether it's capitalized), and the graphic capitalizes *everything*, rendering it useless (are the caps just a stylistic choice, or is it meaningful? DUNNO!).

Ah well.

If bandwidth was standardized around bits, it may explain why it's so commonly used. This was burned into memory for a lot of us by the old use of 'baud rate', which--for a time--essentially matched bit rate, making it hard to give up that scale of measuring data transfer speeds.

I can confirm that the chart is using megabits. Past Netflix charts used (and spelled out) kilobits, and the values match in scale. As nice as it would be to embrace consumer lingo and just use megabytes (I think all browsers are already doing this for downloads anyway), it might take more than we think to actually accomplish.

The more shocking revelation from this list is the very small gap between the ISPs. Google Fiber isn't outperforming them by any wide margin, assuming Netflix isn't artificially limiting their bandwidth to the end user.

Useless statistic unless they report how many customers are using Netflix on each network.
If VZ is that close and has a larger number of Netflix subscribers, the numbers are skewed.
However, Verizon is a very much larger network than Google Fiber so it likely has more NF users.

And I wouldn't be the least bit surprised to find GF using Verizon as a backbone provider.

I'd be more interested in high definition video streaming at a minimum 15Mbit statistics and who can handle that... not Netflix's cheapo SD stream speeds... I mean comon 2.5Mbit? Good HD streams start at 10Mbit great ones are at least 20Mbit and Blu-ray quality is in the 30+Mbit range

and since when is Google a "major" ISP... they are a small regional ISP right now, Comcast covers over 30% of the country, I'd consider that a Major ISP

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