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, 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, (Speed Test Your Internet Device Here). 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 Comcast and its history of increasing speed.
Comcast announced in 2014 (the most recent year for which figures are available) that it had increased its Internet speeds for the 12th time in 13 years, with customers on two of its Xfinity tiers in the Northeast U.S. (Maine to Virginia) receiving additional speeds at no extra cost.
This claim would seem to be borne out by Billshark’s research, which shows Comcast upgrading its network speed from 8 Mbps in 2005 to 105 Mbps in 2014.
According to PC Magazine, which analyzed the results of speed tests taken online by its readers, Comcast’s Xfinity service tied for first place with Verizon’s FiOS among 10 major ISPs in the U.S. The difference between the two is in the symmetry of speeds (upload vs. download), with Comcast focusing its efforts on download speeds. When all U.S. ISPs were taken into account, Comcast ranked fifth in speed.
The FCC report, however, measured a difference between maximum advertised speed (150 Mbps) and median download speed (61 Mbps) for the year 2015. The FCC blames this discrepancy on several possible factors, from geographic differences to network traffic surges throughout the day.
Thus, Comcast’s Xfinity service appears to fare well overall in speed tests.