Charter claims top spot in Ookla's Q3 ISP ranking, Cox and Comcast trail

Charter Communications’ Spectrum came out on top as the ISP with the fastest median download speed in the third quarter – 211.66 Mbps – per Ookla’s Speedtest Intelligence report for fixed broadband.

Cox, which claimed the fastest download speed last quarter, dropped to second place with a median download speed of 196.52 Mbps. Comcast’s Xfinity, which just this week boosted download speeds for five service tiers, came in third with 191.65 Mbps.

Meanwhile Verizon, which previously snagged the top spot in Ookla’s first quarter ISP rankings with 184.36 Mbps, now sits at fourth place with a median download speed of 176.49 Mbps. Altice USA’s Optimum lingered behind Verizon at 176.03 Mbps. AT&T came in sixth with a median top speed of 167.32 Mbps, while Lumen’s CenturyLink brought up the rear of median download speeds, lagging at seventh place with 41.31 Mbps.

The major broadband players have clashed over who has the fastest internet speed. Though AT&T came on the losing end of this quarter’s rankings, it won its latest advertising squabble with Charter, forcing the cable operator to remove a commercial claiming its download speeds are “20X faster than AT&T Internet.”

As for upload speeds, AT&T and Verizon beat out the competition in first and second place, with median upload speeds of 125.87 Mbps and 108.64 Mbps, respectively. Other ISPs trailed significantly, with Optimum coming in third at 30.68 Mbps, followed by Xfinity (20.28 Mbps), CenturyLink (11.89 Mbps), Spectrum (11.69 Mbps) and Cox (10.64 Mbps).

An Ookla representative told Fierce cable and DSL networks often have download rates that are 5-10x higher than upload speeds. In contrast, fiber networks can deliver more symmetric connections, meaning upload and download speeds are similar.

The gap between uplink and downlink speeds is gradually starting to change, as Ookla CTO Luke Deryckx told Fierce earlier this year. As of the end of September, the median upload speed in the U.S. was 22.40 Mbps, compared to 18.86 Mbps in September 2021.

U.S. download rates also continue to climb, rising from 127.82 Mbps in September 2021 to 172.30 Mbps in September 2022. Globally, the U.S. came in seventh place for median download speed in Q3, dropping slightly from its sixth place spot a year ago.

Japan, which last September ranked twenty-fourth in global median download speeds with 91.80 Mbps, has taken sixth place with 172.94 Mbps. Also ahead of the U.S. is China, ranking third in Q3 with download rates of 196.00 Mbps.