The study, based on tests of more than 6,000 people's home broadband connections, showed that during peak periods DSL connections on average met just 82% of already-slow advertised speeds. Cable subscribers did better, with companies on average meeting 93% of advertised speeds, while Verizon's fiber-to-the-home service surpassed advertised speeds (actual speeds were 114% of what was promised).
The numbers varied considerably by company, and by the level of service. For instance, AT&T met just 78% of advertised speeds for its customers who thought they were purchasing connections of 768 Kbps. But the company met 92% of advertised speeds for customers who purchased plans offering connections of 24 Mbps.
Advocacy group Free Press was unimpressed with the results. "The fact that providers using the same technology turned in very different performances indicates that delivering promised speeds can be done, but some ISPs are simply failing to properly maintain and provision their networks," research director S. Derek Turner said in a statement. "In every other industry, giving your customers less than what they paid for is a very serious offense."
The FCC's report comes one week after Akamai issued a study stating that U.S. residents still have slower Web connections than residents of other countries. According to Akamai, average speed in the U.S. for the first quarter was 5.3 Mbps. While that's up 14% from the first quarter of 2010, it's still slower than in 13 other countries including South Korea (14.4 Mbps average), Japan (8.1 Mbps), Latvia (6.3 Mbps) and Ireland (5.6 Mbps).