US consumers get half of advertised broadband speed

In a report, the agency said the practice of advertising 'up to' speeds is unhelpful for consumers

The actual download speeds that consumers get are about half of those promised by service providers, according to a report released this week by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

In 2009, U.S. residential consumers subscribed to broadband services with an average and median advertised download speed of 7 Mbps to 8 Mbps, respectively, the FCC said. But the actual average speed they received was 4 Mbps and the actual median speed was 3 Mbps.

The FCC criticized the use of maximum rather than actual speeds and said it will support efforts to develop a better way to represent bandwidth.

The maximum advertised speed ignores network congestion, underperforming computers and routers, and websites and applications that aren't optimized, the FCC said. "Yet this 'up to' speed is commonly the only metric that can be used to compare the speeds of different broadband offerings. The 'up to' speed, however, does not provide an accurate measure of likely end-user broadband experience," the FCC wrote in the report, released Tuesday.

The FCC plans to help develop a better way to measure actual speeds, per a recommendation in the National Broadband Plan. The plan, which lays out a road map for building more and faster broadband connections in the U.S., recommends that the FCC work with consumer groups, industry, technical experts and the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop a standard that reflects what end users actually experience. It will include actual speeds and performance of the network at peak hours and over a period of time.

The report also showed significant continued growth in broadband and Internet use. Since 1994, the average number of hours each person spends online has increased at a 25 percent compound annual growth rate, the FCC found.

Last year, the average user consumed more than 9 GB of data per month on their home connection while the median user consumed less than 2 GB, the FCC reported. The wide gap between those figures reflects the small number of users who consume very large amounts of data per month. The most data-intensive 1 percent of residential consumers account for 25 percent of all traffic. The top 10 percent consume 70 percent, the FCC said.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags telecommunicationFederal Communications Commissionbroadband

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?