There were two piece of news in the new Ookla Speedtest report. One was that internet speeds in the United States have hit record levels. The other is that Comcast Corp.’s (NASDAQ: CMCSA) Xfinity broadband crushed its competition in download speed.
The typical fixed broadband consumer in the U.S. saw average download speeds greater than 50 Mbps for the first time ever during the first six months of 2016, topping out at 54.97 Mbps in June. This laudable milestone is a 42% increase in download speed year-over-year. While this average speed is more than sufficient for typical activities like browsing the web and streaming video content, 50 Mbps is a small fraction of the speed offered from gigabit fiber optic internet. Upload speed saw an even bigger increase, improving by over 50% since last year, with the average consumer receiving an upload speed of 18.88 Mbps.
Broadband is not only a conduit for entertainment and news, it is also considered a key means for education, which is one reason the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other organizations bemoan the lack of it in poor neighborhoods and rural areas.
Speedtest made the point that fiber optics have been critical in the increase in download and upload speeds.
As for individual providers, Speedtest examined, among others, AT&T Inc.’s (NYSE: T) U-verse, Verizon Communications Inc.’s (NYSE: V) Fios and ISP services from Cox, Spectrum and CenturyLink.
XFINITY took fastest ISP in the U.S. with a top-tier download speed of 125.53 Mbps. XFINITY’s top download speeds have been consistently higher than those of other ISPs over the last year, though in the last couple months that gap has been closing. Despite the fastest download speeds, XFINITY claimed fourth place in upload speed with 15.26 Mbps.
As for the winner in upload:
Verizon Fios’ fiber optic services achieved far higher upload speeds than other popular service providers. In 2012, Verizon Fios launched its now retired FiOS Quantum product, which offered speeds of up to 300 Mbps down and 65 Mbps up. They now offer symmetrical internet services with speeds of up to 500 Mbps. Verizon Fios’ download speed hovered around 83.91 Mbps at the start of January 2016 and ended June 2016 at 94.98 Mbps. Despite this slight increase, Verizon Fios still falls squarely in the middle of the major U.S. providers for top download speeds.
Broadband will get faster as services like ultra-fast fiber from Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Google enter the market.