FCC Report shows Verizon much faster than Cablevision

The FCC recently conducted a study of some of the top broadband ISPs in the country and measured customers’ actual bandwidth as compared to what the ISPs advertised. FiOS really came out on top.

The report is available on the FCC site. The bottom line, though, is that Verizon FiOS averaged nearly 120% of advertised speed (i.e., more than was advertised) and Cablevision was between 50% and 75% of advertised speeds. Latency (ping) was also heavily in FiOS’s favor.

FCC - Fios vs Cablevision
FCC - Fios vs Cablevision

The methodology was pretty interesting:

More than 78,000 consumers volunteered to participate in this study and a total of approximately 9,000 consumers were selected as potential participants and were supplied with specially configured routers. The data in this Report is based on a statistically selected subset of those consumers—approximately 6,800 individuals—and the measurements taken in their homes during March 2011. The participants in the volunteer consumer panel were recruited with the goal of covering ISPs within the U.S. across all broadband technologies, although only results from three major technologies—DSL, cable, and fiber-to-the-home—are reflected in
this Report. To account for network variances across the United States, volunteers were recruited from the four Census Regions: Northeast, Midwest, South, and West. Within each Census Region, consumers were selected to represent broadband performance in three typical speed ranges: less than 3 Mbps, between 3 and 10 Mbps, greater than 10 Mbps.

The testing methodology itself required innovation on both the consumer, or “client,” side and on the ISP, or “server,” side. The server-side infrastructure, which comprised reference measurement points that were distributed geographically across nine different U.S. locations, was made available to SamKnows for the project by M-Lab, a non-profit organization that supports Internet research activities. Each consumer participant’s broadband performance was measured from a hardware gateway in his or her household to the off-net test node that had the lowest latency to the consumer’s address.

On the “client” side of the test, consumers self-installed a measurement gateway that was provided by SamKnows. These gateways, or “Whiteboxes,” were installed between the consumer’s computer and Internet gateway and came pre-loaded with custom testing software. The “Whitebox” software was programmed to automatically perform a periodic suite of broadband measurements while excluding the effects of consumer equipment and household broadband activity. This approach permitted a direct measure of the broadband service an ISP delivered to a consumer’s household.

Anyone who’s experienced both Cablevision and Verizon can probably corroborate these results. Unless Cablevision significantly improves their services (DVR/TV as well as Internet), at the same price there’s no way I’d go back to Cablevision; I’d even stick with Verizon if it meant spending $10-$20 more per month, the service is that much better.