Wireline network performance: How CenturyLink, Consolidated and Verizon compared in Q4 2015

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How do Verizon, Consolidated Communications and CenturyLink, among others, compare when it comes to wireline network latency, throughput and availability? These three factors have a direct impact on how well operators serve businesses and consumers, making it important for customers to know what they're getting.

Through a partnership with Cedexis, a provider of Internet measurement and real-time performance optimization solutions, we're shedding some light on how the top seven U.S. wireline networks performed in terms of latency, throughput and availability during the fourth quarter.

Below you'll find charts showing exactly how these service providers stacked up against each other in the fourth quarter across their respective networks. Also, make sure to check out our third-quarter report here.

In conducting its analysis, Cedexis measured the networks against five U.S. CDNs -- Akamai, Limelight, Edgecast, Level 3 and Highwinds. The company has measurements for each region of the country, but unless otherwise noted, the below results are averaged across the entire United States.

Network Latency:

Cedexis Q4 2015 network latency
Click here to enlarge chart. Image: Cedexis

Cedexis measured nationwide latency during the month of January. Latency, which is typically measured in milliseconds, is defined as the time it takes for a source to send a packet of data to a receiver. The lower the latency (the fewer the milliseconds), the better the network performance is for the user.

Verizon retained the lead in network latency amongst the group represented here, improving to 35.4 milliseconds across its nine regions from 46.1 msec in the previous period. 

Fellow ILEC AT&T (NYSE: T) came in second at 44.6 milliseconds. CenturyLink placed third at 48.3 msec, and Consolidated landed in fourth place at 50.2 msec. For AT&T and CenturyLink this was an improvement over their performance in the earlier quarter of 46.1 and 49.1 msec, respectively. But Consolidated saw its latency jump from last month's average of 40.6. Meanwhile, Windstream saw a slight improvement in latency at 52.3 milliseconds.

Finally, FairPoint and Frontier still had the highest latency at 57.3 and 65.6 msec, respectively. However, their scores slightly improved over the 58.5 and 63.0 msec that occurred in the earlier period.

Network Throughput: 

Cedex network throughput Q4 2015
Click here to enlarge chart. Image: Cedexis

On the throughput front, Cedexis noted that Verizon and Consolidated were nearly tied with 8.02 and 7.9 Mbps. What sets Verizon apart from Consolidated is that it has a much broader network reach. However, Consolidated has extremely good throughput in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, as well as the Southwest.

After Verizon, there were some fluctuations at AT&T and CenturyLink. AT&T came in at 5.1 Mbps while CenturyLink dropped to 4.8 Mbps.

Windstream dominated the third group with 3.7 Mbps followed by FairPoint, which is only present in four U.S. territories, at 2.9 Mbps. Frontier showed a slight improvement with throughput speeds at 2.9 Mbps, up from 2.86 Mbps.  

Network Availability:

Cedexis network availability Q4 2015
Click here to enlarge chart. Image: Cedexis

Cedexis said that not many providers had "three 9's" of performance, but there were some exceptions regionally.

Verizon again took home the top title in the network availability column with an average of 99.8 percent. In the second group, AT&T, CenturyLink, and Consolidated were tied at an average of 99.7 percent of availability. However, Consolidated is only present in six regions.

Meanwhile, Windstream had 99.7 percent of availability followed FairPoint and Frontier at 99.6 and 99.8 percent, respectively. 

Stay tuned for next quarter, when FierceTelecom and Cedexis team up again to measure network performance.

Wireline network performance: How CenturyLink, Consolidated and Verizon compared in Q4 2015