According to the USA’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC), maximum advertised broadband download speeds increased from an average of 37.2 Mbps (megabits per second) in September 2013 to 72 Mbps in September 2014; a boost of 94%.
During peak periods and on average, the ratio of actual download speed to advertised download speed for all ISPs scored 74% or better, and 90% or better for the majority of ISPs.
However, the FCC’s fifth “Measuring Broadband America” report notes actual upload speed, averaged across all participating ISPs, may have tripled from approximately 3 Mbps in March 2011 to approximately 9 Mbps in September 2014. It’s still a long way off from symmetrical connections being the rule rather than the exception.
The FCC said the quality of connections is varying greatly depending on the technology used. Latency – a measure of time delay from one point of a network to another – tends to be low on DSL, cable and fiber systems. Packet loss is generally low on cable, satellite and fiber systems.
High latency and packet loss can affect the quality of activities such as Voice Over IP (VoIP), video chat, or online multiplayer games.
Speed and speed consistency is becoming an even more pressing issue; with video traffic currently comprising over 60% of internet traffic. Some forecasts expect video traffic to grow to 80% of all internet traffic by 2019.
While the data that the FCC based its report on is a little out of date, particularly given the speed at which broadband is evolving, the FCC says the report provides valuable information.
“Faster, better broadband will unleash new innovations and new services to improve the lives of the American people,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “This comprehensive assessment of broadband performance helps to keep consumers informed and hold ISPs accountable.”
The Measuring Broadband America report can be viewed in full here.
While the FCC report focused more on maximum advertised broadband speeds, a recent study from Akamai looked at average connection speeds; and with more recent data. According to Akamai, the average connection speed in the USA during Q3 2015 was 12.6 Mbps. That was still well ahead of Australia, which ranked 46 in the world with an average 7.8 Mbps.