Verizon, Consolidated take lead in Q3 network performance

Global data network. Image: Pixabay

How do top U.S. carriers like AT&T, Consolidated Communications and Verizon compare when it comes to wireline network throughput, latency 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.

Cedexis and FierceTelecom have teamed up to bring readers these network performance numbers each quarter.

Below you'll find charts showing exactly how these service providers stacked up against each other in the third quarter across their respective networks.

Also, make sure to check out our second-quarter 2016, first-quarter 2016fourth-quarter 2015 and third-quarter 2015 network performance reports.

Network throughput:

Image: Cedexis
The Northeast appears to have the best throughput overall in the U.S. at the 50th percentile, but interestingly not at the 75th percentile.

At the top of the list was Verizon with 9.17 Mbps of throughput followed closely by Consolidated with 8.84 Mbps during this timeframe. Verizon and Consolidated once again took the titles of having the best throughput within the Northeast region. However, Consolidated is only present in four states.

AT&T and CenturyLink continued to hold onto the middle ranking with 6.1 and 5.61 Mbps, respectively, up slightly from 5.5 Mbps and 5.54 Mbps in the second quarter.

In the lower end of the throughput category, Frontier, FairPoint, and Windstream all showed signs of improvement. While Windstream remained at the top of the group at 4.54 Mbps, Frontier and FairPoint also improved to 3.43 and 3.85 Mbps. This was up from 4.45 Mbps, 2.86 and 2.66 Mbps.

Network latency:

Image: Cedexis
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 service providers that had poor network performance. On a regional basis, the Southwest and Northeast remained dominant. 

Verizon, true to its commercials, seems to have the best latency of the networks that have presence in all regions at 65.09 milliseconds while Consolidated did well in the regions where it has presence with 58.19 milliseconds. However, Verizon and Consolidated’s overall latency rankings were up from 37.9 milliseconds and 49.4 milliseconds in the second quarter.

Taking the middle rankings were AT&T, CenturyLink and Windstream with 71.1, 75.97 and 80.77 milliseconds, respectively, up from the 58.0, 59.1, and 77.8 millisecond latency rankings these carriers previously saw. 

Rounding out the group were FairPoint and Frontier, which continued to show the highest latency at 87.94 and 98.53, respectively, yet improved over 93.8 and 86.2 milliseconds.

Network availability:

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

A key goal of all traditional wireline providers is to achieve what is known as five nines availability, something that carriers strive for but never can consistently reach.

The research firm noted that many providers had three nines of performance, but there were some exceptions regionally. There were not many providers with “three 9’s” of performance with the exception of FairPoint on average, but there were some exceptions regionally. On the regional front, Vermont was the dominant state while Mississippi had the poorest availability again.

Verizon and Consolidated were still top contenders in the availability category at 99.9889 and 99.8869 percent, respectively. However, FairPoint managed to advance to 99.909 of availability during the quarter.

AT&T, CenturyLink, and Windstream took the middle tier again with 99.862, 99.84, and 99.8587 percent of availability. For all three of these providers, the third quarter was a slight improvement over the .9980, .9981, and .9984 percent of availability they saw in the second quarter.

Meanwhile, Frontier remained at the bottom with 99.777 percent availability, down from .9981 percent in the second quarter.

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