Once a year, with no specific schedule in mind, the FCC offers up a report on broadband quality in America. It's part of the Commission's National Broadband Plan that seeks to study broadband growth in the U.S. and ways to expand cheap, fast Internet across the country. This month's report shows that ISPs haven't really improved much since the last report in July.
Let's get the most important part of this report out of the way. Are ISPs not delivering advertised speeds? Some aren't, but the majority of them are, at least during peak periods. The study found that in September of last year, ISPs delivered 97 percent of advertised speeds with some even going above and beyond the call of duty by offering over 100 percent of their advertised speeds.
Of course, there are some ISPs that are still not delivered anywhere near their advertised speeds. Some of these ISPs include AT&T, Qwest, Windstream and Lexington's own Insight. All of which are offering anywhere between 80 and 90 percent of the advertised speeds.
Which ISPs are going above and beyond what they promise? Cablevision, Verizon Fiber and ViaSat are all offering more than 100 percent of their advertised speeds. Amazingly, ViaSat is offering almost 140 percent more than what they currently advertise in download streams.
Moving on, the FCC report reveals that consumers are continuing to migrate to faster Internet speeds. This is only a good thing as it's once again proving wrong the concept that most Internet consumers don't want faster speeds. In even further good news, 46 percent of consumers on 0 to 1 Mbps speed Internet moved up to a faster speed tier between April and September of last year. Unfortunately, the study doesn't say to which tier these folks moved to, but it was enough to raise the average speed of the Internet in the U.S. to 15.6 Mbps. The FCC notes that this is an annualized increase of 20 percent.
Finally, the report found that satellite Internet is making huge leaps and bounds in terms of advertised speeds versus actual speeds. You already saw before that ViaSat was offering 140 percent of its advertised speeds, and that carries over to the actual charts which shows that satellite Internet providers on average offer 137 percent of their advertised speeds. Coming in second place is Fiber, which offers 115 percent of its advertised speeds. Cable is second with 98.5 percent, and DSL is last with 85.3 percent.
The FCC points out, however, that satellite Internet, which is largely offered as an alternative to rural homes that can't access to terrestrial lines, still has issues with latency. That is the time it takes to connect and transfer information is still very slow compared to land lines. That being said, satellite Internet companies are improving their technology every year which has led to this year's massive jump over its traditionally advertised speeds.
So, what can we take away from this report? It's good that ISPs are still mostly delivering what they advertise, and that people are still upgrading to higher speeds. What the FCC report doesn't take into account, however, is the prohibitive prices and refusal to expand that keep most consumers away from high speed Internet. Those issues need to be addressed before we start seeing truly remarkable results from these reports.
It seems that the FCC will be focusing on this more in the future. In a statement to The Hill, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said that "we most continue to see increases in broadband speed and capacity" to "unleash innovation and realize broadband's full potential." Let's hope the Commission will actually do something about that this year.