Quantum tiers keep Verizon atop FCC's broadband speed ratings

Telco paced by Cablevision, other ISPs on peak download rates
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A new FCC study released on Friday measuring broadband speeds showed that Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) FiOS and Fiber to the Home (FTTH)-based broadband services overall delivered consistent speeds for subscribers.

FCC broadband speeds 2013

Click here for selected charts from FCC's Measuring Broadband America report.

Based on data collected last September, the report examines the performance of various broadband mechanisms including cable, DSL, fiber and satellite services.

While previous FCC broadband reports measured Verizon's FiOS FTTH, this is the first time the regulator included the telco's Quantum speed tiers of 50/25 Mbps and 75/35 Mbps, which were introduced last summer.

Verizon and Cablevision (NYSE: CVC), which separately use cable and fiber to deliver their services to consumers, provided consistent speeds during download peak periods, said the FCC.

It should be noted that Cablevision leverages a Fiber to the Node (FTTN) architecture where it brings fiber into a neighborhood or hub and then connects to the premises via its HFC cable. Meanwhile, Verizon brings fiber directly into each home, but then leverages the living unit's existing coax cable to distribute services inside either an apartment or single family home.

The Commission wrote that Cablevision and Verizon "were both able to deliver peak period speeds of 115 percent of advertised rates during peak periods, suggesting that engineering and deployment rules, in addition to technology, are a crucial component of overall service quality."

From a technology perspective, the FCC report revealed that FTTH services had the lowest latency, something it said rang true across all fiber-to-the-home speed tiers.

"During the September 2012 testing period, fiber-to-the-home services provided 18 ms round-trip latency on average, while cable-based services averaged 26 ms, and DSL-based services averaged 44 ms," the FCC wrote. "This compares to figures from the April 2012 testing period of 18 ms for fiber, 26 ms for cable and 43 ms for DSL."

DSL, on average, delivered 85 percent of advertised speeds during peak periods, up from 84 percent in the April 2012 testing period, while cable met 99 percent, the same as in the July 2012 Report. FTTH performance, however, decreased slightly, from 117 percent of advertised speeds in the July 2012 report to 115 percent of advertised speeds in the September 2012 testing period. 

The FCC said that during the September 2012 testing period, "ISPs on average delivered 97 percent of advertised download speeds during peak periods."

"Overall, we found results in this report materially unchanged from the previous report with one exception, Frontier Communications (Nasdaq: FTR), which has improved its performance 13 percent from the last reporting period," wrote the FCC. "Encouragingly, we find that another trend previously observed in the July 2012 Report has also continued, as consumers have sustained their migration to higher speed services. In this report for the first time we tested download speeds as high as 75 Mbps (megabits per second), and we know that even higher rates are being offered by service providers to their customers."

For more:
- see the Verizon release
- and the FCC report

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