For those who’ve been using the Internet long enough to remember the interminable wait times associated with dial-up modems, you’ll know that Internet speeds have come a long way since then. And they get faster every month.
The advent of broadband put us all light-years ahead of the days when you couldn’t make or receive phone calls because your phone line was tied up sending and receiving data, which crawled across your screen like a lazy snail. And in the last ten years, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have made enormous progress in increasing speeds.
As Billshark reported recently (Speed Test Your Internet Device Here), faster Internet speeds aren’t just a nice-to-have perk. They are crucial if you’re going to download or upload any type of data, which is pretty much everything you do on the Internet. Unfortunately, not all ISPs are equal when it comes to delivering the speed they’ve promised or that you’re paying for.
In December 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the latest in its reports as part of its Measuring Broadband America (MBA) program to study directly measured consumer broadband performance throughout the United States. A summary of its key findings reported that “maximum advertised download speeds amongst the most popular service tiers offered by ISPs have increased from 12-30 Mbps in March 2011 (when the program first launched) to 100-300 Mbps in September 2015. These increases are not uniform across access technologies and have been driven primarily by the CableTV industry, with smaller increases in fiber based systems. Average DSL speeds have increased only slightly over these years and satellite speeds, over a shorter time interval, have remained constant.”
In the coming weeks, Billshark will be presenting information on the latest speed test results for the top ISPs in the country, which will allow you to better gauge the performance of your own ISP, and the value you receive for your broadband dollar. To speed test your own ISP, click here.
This time we will focus on Charter Spectrum Communications, specifically as related to speed increases and delivery.
According to Reviews.com (as of November, 2015), Charter Communications offers lightning-fast download speeds and a free modem, but only three bundled Internet plans to choose from. The free modem, a perk unusual among ISPs, could save you a lot of money, but the limited number of plans (most other ISPs offer four to six) could have you paying for things you don’t want. In addition, Charter’s advertised prices increase regularly after the first 12 months of service.
As for speed, Charter Spectrum finishes eighth in that category out of the ten major ISPs in the U.S., according the PC Magazine, and doesn’t make the top ten among all ISPs. As shown in Billshark’s research, the firm’s advertised speed increased from 60 Mbps in 2014 to 100 Mbps in 2017. The FCC report clocks their median speed as 68 Mbps in 2015 (the latest year for which figures are available). This may not be a problem, however, as Charter Spectrum still advertises that its speeds “start” at 60 Mbps, so clearly they are not over-promising.
Thus, it appears that Charter fares relatively well in its speed tests, but less well in saving you money over the long run.