Internet service providers actually met -- and sometimes exceeded -- the speeds they advertised despite previous stereotypes, according to a report released on Tuesday by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
A year-long study by the government showed that while there is some variation from company to company, for the most part service providers were able to meet expectations.
"For most participating broadband providers, actual download speeds are substantially closer to advertised speeds than was found in data from early 2009 and discussed in a subsequent FCC white paper, though performance can vary significantly by technology and specific provider," the FCC said in its "Measuring Broadband in America," report.
The FCC focused on 13 of the largest broadband providers: AT&T; Cablevision; CenturyLink; Charter; Comcast; Cox; Frontier; Insight; Mediacom; Qwest; Time Warner; Verizon; and WindStream.
The study looked at how the broadband providers performed in uplink and downlink during peak hours (7 pm to 11 pm) as well as during off-peak hours. For the most part the Internet service providers did quite well, with cable averaging 93 percent of promised downlink speed while DSL was a bit behind at 82 percent.
The FCC used a group of volunteers across the country to test the various providers during March of 2011.
Verizon FIOS and Comcast cable were the two biggest winners from the study, as both averaged delivery of 100 percent or more of promised bandwidth speed. Verizon was especially happy to best its own advertised speeds.
"This report gives the FCC and consumers a snapshot of today's competitive broadband marketplace," Kathleen Grillo, Verizon senior vice president for federal regulatory relations said on Monday. "It also demonstrates that Verizon's substantial investment in fiber-to-the-home technology is delivering real benefits to consumers that set us apart from the competition."
On the other end of the spectrum, Cablevision, owned by Madison Square Garden owner James Dolan, fared the worst, delivering just half of its promised bandwidth speed during peak hours.
Overall, despite the failings of Cablevision and a few other companies, the FCC is viewing these results as a major win, and something for Internet providers to be proud of. It saw vastly different results in 2009, often many companies were 30 to 50 percent worse than advertised, while this time around companies for the most part held up to their end of the agreement.
"We found that most major ISPs are providing service close to what they're advertising," FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said. "This represents a significant improvement over the findings from two years ago, when we first shone a light on this issue. We also found that, while there are some differences between technologies, DSL, cable and fiber-to-the-home are all delivering quality service generally consistent with what they advertise."
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