For years, people complained that Internet service providers advertised super-fast speeds, only to deliver less-than-speedy Web service. The Federal Communications Commission took on this problem last year, by systematically studying broadband speeds and comparing them to advertised speeds.
The first report, released one year ago, wasn't all that encouraging. The FCC found that ISPs delivered just 87% of advertised speeds during peak hours (7 p.m. to 11 p.m.).
But this week, the FCC's second annual report on the topic showed an improvement: ISPs are now delivering 96% of advertised speeds during the same hours, according to the 2012 "Measuring Broadband America" report.
For the report, the FCC looked at download and upload speeds from 13 ISPs. Overall, ISPs that advertised the fastest speeds did better at delivering them than did ISPs that advertised slower speeds. DSL consumers were able to download at around 84% of advertised seeds, while cable modem subscribers could download at around 99% of advertised speeds. Fiber subscribers were able to download at 117% of advertised speeds.
Among specific ISPs, Cablevision and Verizon FiOS did far better than promised, with both companies delivering speeds of 120% what they advertised. For Cablevision, that figure marked a big turnaround from last year, when the company only delivered 54% of its promised speed.
But for Verizon customers, the news wasn't all good. While Verizon's FiOS performed well, the company's DSL service only delivered 87% of advertised speeds.
The companies with the worst records this year were Frontier (which delivered 79% of advertised speeds), Qwest (83%), and Windstream (84%).
Even though ISPs are getting better at meeting the speeds they tout in ads, that still doesn't do much for consumers who can't receive broadband at home. A separate FCC report released today points out that many consumers are in this position. That paper -- an FCC report about competition in video programming -- says that one challenge facing online video distributors is that an estimated 26.2 million Americans still lack access to broadband.