U.S. Internet Speedtest: Winners and Losers
Average download speeds for broadband customers in the U.S. this year have exceeded 50 Mbps for "the first time ever," according to a new report from Speedtest on Internet service provider (ISP) performance across the country. Mobile Internet speeds are also increasing, although the U.S. continues to lag globally in both broadband and mobile performance, currently ranking 20th in fixed broadband and 42nd in mobile Internet performance globally.
Comcast's Xfinity ranked number one during the first six months of this year among U.S. ISPs for download speeds, averaging 125.53 Mbps, according to Speedtest, a service of Seattle-based Ookla. In a measurement of upload speeds, meanwhile, Verizon's Fios fiber service came in at the top with an average speed of 93.64 Mbps.
In the case of mobile Internet services, customers are benefitting from a highly competitive market in which the top four carriers -- AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon -- "are in a tight race for fastest download speeds," according to the new report. And mobile network speeds, now averaging a little more than 19 Mbps, have increased by over 30 percent since last year.
For mobile downloads, there was a tie between Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile in the first half of 2016, with speeds averaging just over 21 Mbps, according to Speedtest. T-Mobile was the top performer in uploads, with an average speed over 11 Mbps.
'Time will Tell' on Gigabit Speeds
Since July 2015, fixed broadband customers across the U.S. have seen download speeds improve by more than 40 percent, according to Speedtest. It said those improvements came in the wake of industry consolidation, infrastructure upgrades and growing deployment of fiber-optic service by companies ranging from AT&T and Xfinity to Google Fiber.
While the average broadband speeds are "more than sufficient for typical activities like browsing the web and streaming video content," they represent just a small fraction of what's possible with gigabit-speed fiber, Speedtest said.
Even broadband that performs decently remains out of reach for many people in the U.S., according to Speedtest, which cited a report from the Federal Communications Commission showing that 10 percent of the population cannot yet access download speeds of 25 Mbps or upload speeds of 3 Mbps.
"With the growth of municipal and locally-focused fiber deployments, as well as network infrastructure investments from the big ISPs, the U.S. is likely to see continued performance gains in the coming year," the Speedtest report stated. "Time will tell whether those gains will be incremental or a larger step toward gigabit speeds."
Mobile Demand 'Puts Strain' on Networks
While mobile connection speeds are also improving across the U.S., they aren't keeping pace with the growth rates seen in broadband, according to Speedtest, which has provided measurements of Internet performance since 2006 via a global network of servers. Mobile download speeds in the first six months of 2016 improved by just 5 percent, while upload speeds actually decreased slightly, by 1 percent.
"The slow performance growth rate in 2016 thus far indicates that the major carriers likely weren't able to keep up with the data capacity needs of consumers," the report stated. "Consumers' increased mobile Internet usage will continue to put strain on the cellular network infrastructure, which will likely drive carriers to invest in network capacity rather than just investing in coverage alone."
Beyond the top mobile carriers, mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs, are playing a "major role" in the U.S., Speedtest said. However, these services, which lease and re-sell network bandwidth from the major carriers, tend to be both lower priced and slower because of "added network complexity" and sometimes even deliberate slowing of speeds (known as "throttling"). Speedtest's report did not include MVNO performance in its measurements.
"The coming arrival of 5G looms on the horizon with the promise of huge performance gains, but we likely won't see those networks turn up until at least 2020," Speedtest said. "The next several quarters will certainly be interesting."
Posted: 2016-08-10 @ 8:05am PT
And my download speed with CenturyLink "extended dsl" remains .5mbs