Do Broadband Consumers Get the Bandwidth They Pay For?

NetForecast analysis shows that generally when you buy more bandwidth you get it

NetForecast examined the FCC's Internet connection performance data to determine if consumers are receiving the bandwidth they pay for. We found that the higher the bandwidth purchased, the better the chance that the bandwidth delivered meets or exceeds advertised levels. At lower service tiers, consumers generally receive less bandwidth capacity than advertised, while at higher tiers consumers tend to receive more than the advertised bandwidth capacity, except during peak usage periods

(This posting is part of a series about NetForecast's newly published report FCC's "Measuring Broadband America" Report Tells Only Half the Story.)

The mean bandwidth values for each service tier from all the ISPs in the FCC study vary greatly. The following figure consolidates the values by showing the 95th percentile confidence range of two pertinent measurement periods: all the hours in the month, and the peak Internet usage period of 7 to 11 PM local time Monday-Friday. The resulting confidence interval trend lines (lower and upper) for each ISP service tier are highlighted.

Lower bandwidth tiers on the left of the figure receive on average less than the advertised bandwidth; however, the opposite is true for higher service tiers. Consumers who purchase more than 12 Mbps service are highly likely to experience bandwidth levels that meet or exceed advertised levels. The performance delivered falls for all service tiers during the peak usage period on weekdays between 7PM and 11PM.

Advertised vs. Delivered Bandwidth

The FCC report documents a favorable picture of broadband delivery in the United States. The overall confidence interval ranges are centered on the 100% line. This is in stark contrast to the very poor ISP results shown in UK Ofcom studies that used the same SamKnows measurement methodology. Broadband services in the US are significantly better than in the UK. This calls into question various rankings that place US Internet service as vastly inferior to the rest of the world.

The FCC measurement of ISP performance is a critical first step in understanding Internet resource economics. We expect that the FCC's ongoing scrutiny will improve performance and the value received by consumers from ISPs over time

Click here to get the FCC report.

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