AT&T, Consolidated, Verizon put to the test on network latency, throughput, availability


How do top U.S. carriers including AT&T, Verizon and Consolidated Communications 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 once again shedding some light on how the top seven U.S. wireline networks performed in terms of latency, throughput and availability during the first 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 fourth-quarter 2015 and third-quarter 2015 network performance reports.

Network latency:

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.

Cedexis included the 50th and 75th percentile to illustrate what service providers had poor network performance. Other than the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast regions, Cedexis noted that Frontier had some of the worst performance per region of all the networks with 65.9 milliseconds of latency. Further, Frontier had by far the worst outlier latency with consumers and businesses in the 75th percentile who experienced on average 108 milliseconds of round trip time. 

Consolidated and Verizon are nearly tied with the lowest latency of 39.7 and 39.8 milliseconds, respectively. However, Verizon's latency numbers were a bit higher than the 35.4 milliseconds it saw in the fourth quarter, while Consolidated improved from 50.2 milliseconds.

In the middle range were AT&T (NYSE: T) and CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL). AT&T saw latency rise slightly to 44.9 milliseconds, while CenturyLink held on to 48.3 milliseconds.

FairPoint came in at 55 milliseconds, an improvement over the 57.2 milliseconds in the fourth-quarter, while Windstream's 52.8 milliseconds of latency was slightly higher than the 52.3 milliseconds in the earlier period.

Network throughput:

In terms of network throughput, Verizon and Consolidated topped the list in the 50th percentile. Cedexis said that Verizon stood alone with the best throughput in the 75th percentile with 7.67 Mbps while Consolidated had 7.58 Mbps.

Following Consolidated and Verizon, CenturyLink was regionally strong in places and in Southeast Kentucky it appears to be uniquely strong for throughput, with 5.09 Mbps. However, CenturyLink trailed AT&T slightly, which had 5.18 Mbps of average throughput.

In the final tier, Windstream had the best throughput of 3.9 Mbps, trailed by FairPoint with 3.19 Mbps. At the bottom of the pack was Frontier with 2.87 Mbps.

Network availability:

Cedexis US network availability 2016 Q1

Cedexis measured network availability as a percentage of connection attempts. Similar to latency and throughput, service provider performance in this category varied.

Not many providers in the group showed five nines performance in network availability, but there were some exceptions regionally.

Similar to network latency, Verizon and Consolidated were once again tied at 99.8 percent as the dominant providers in the network availability category. However, Consolidated is only present in three regions. In the second group, AT&T and CenturyLink were tied with 99.7 percent.

Meanwhile, FairPoint and Frontier had 99.7 percent and 99.8 percent of availability respectively, but FairPoint was only measured in four states. Likewise, Windstream saw 99.8 percent across its wireline operating territories.

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

AT&T, Consolidated, Verizon put to the test on network latency, throughput, availability