FCC Measuring Broadband Report Delivers High Marks for Cable ISPs


Last week, the FCC released its Measuring Broadband America (MBA): Fixed Broadband Report. The annual analysis looks at consumer fixed broadband performance in the United States by benchmarking connectivity and analyzing how the internet has changed or improved over the last year. The report gave high marks to U.S. ISPs, especially cable-based providers, showing improvements in speed and performance.

Key findings from the report:

  • Broadband speeds increased 22 percent year over year, from a median speed of 32 Mbps to 39 Mbps.
  • Speeds for cable providers increased from 39 Mbps in 2014 to a median of 54 Mbps in 2015.
  • Downloads speeds met or exceeded advertised speeds for all of the tested cable providers and two of the fiber-based telco services. DSL test results fell short of advertised speeds.
  • Cable providers performed extremely well in the FCC’s 80/80 speed consistency measure (which measures the speed that 80 percent of tested internet subscribers experienced at least 80 percent of the time over peak periods) with Comcast, Charter, and Altice USA all delivering at least 100 percent of subscribed speeds under the 80/80 test.
  • Thanks to cable technology upgrades, the peak speed of the most popular tested cable service tier has risen from 12 – 30 Mbps to 100 – 300 Mbps over the last five years.

It’s worth noting that the type of technology used to deliver broadband was where most shortcomings and inconsistencies arose. Satellite and DSL, for example, were less likely to have improved broadband speed and consistency over the last year compared to cable networks. The report indicates that this gap could close for satellite broadband with the launch of next generation satellites in several years.

Thanks to live streaming, gaming, and video chat, latency (the time delay in delivering data packets across networks) is becoming more important. The report indicates that “terrestrial-based broadband services” (i.e. non-satellite non-cellular broadband) have very low latency which is “unlikely to affect the perceived quality of applications.”

Perhaps the most telling chart in the report is the one below, indicating the change in median broadband speed over the last five years. Cable providers have achieved the most marked increases in speed over the last half-decade, some like Charter increasing their median download speed nearly five-fold.


For more information on the methodology of the report and further details on the state of American broadband, you can read the full FCC report here.

This blog also appeared in CTAM Smartbrief. To sign up, click here.