The Federal Communication Commission’s new report, Measuring Broadband America, confirms that cable operators are delivering world-class services to their customers.
Based on a rigorous testing process, the Commission found that, on average, during peak periods (7:00 – 11:00 p.m. local time), cable-based services delivered 93 percent of advertised download speeds and 108 percent of advertised upload speeds. When off-peak performance is included as well, many of the cable operators in the test delivered more than 100 percent of the advertised download speed and the majority delivered more than 100 percent of advertised upload speeds. To the extent the National Broadband Plan suggested there might be a significant gap between actual and advertised speeds, the report dispels those concerns and makes clear that “actual download speeds are substantially closer to advertised speeds” than was asserted previously.
The positive results reported by the Commission reflect the cable industry’s long track record of network investment and innovation and our focus on providing services that are attractive to consumers. As with Commission surveys showing extremely high consumer satisfaction levels, the results of the SamKnows testing confirm that marketplace forces are working for the benefit of consumers.
The testing also demonstrates the significant consumer benefits associated with PowerBoost technology, which is used by many cable operators. PowerBoost enables consumers to receive bursts of additional throughput when there is excess capacity in the network. As the Commission’s report demonstrates, PowerBoost increased download performance by as much as 52 percent during peak periods for some offerings.
Beyond the substantive importance of the results, the SamKnows testing is equally important for the procedural lessons it teaches. The Commission faced a challenging task in developing a testing mechanism that could accurately measure the performance of different types of ISP networks. To the Commission’s credit, it recognized that the best way to develop such a process would be to work in a collaborative manner with the ISPs whose networks were being tested, as well as academics, equipment manufacturers, consumer groups and others. We appreciate the hard work and dedication of the Commission staff throughout this process.
It is important to keep today’s report in perspective. The test involved only a small fraction of the ISPs operating in the United States (and only covered wireline providers), each ISP had only a small number of test panelists, and the report covers only one month of performance data. Further analysis of the data is needed to ensure that the testing process fairly and accurately measured the performance of each ISP. We look forward to reviewing the report in more detail and continuing to work with the Commission staff and other interested parties on these issues.