Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Real Broadband Continues to Elude the U.S.

The FCC, with its low bar of expectation policy, still maintains that any data speed above 200 Kbps is considered broadband, as the rest of the developed world laughs at this apparent denial of truly Olympic proportions.

Meanwhile, In-Stat noted that at the NXTcomm show in Las Vegas, Verizon announced it is increasing the top speed of its FiOS broadband service in 10 states. They will now offer downloads at 50 Megabits per second (Mbps) and uploads at 20 Mbps -- up from 30 Mbps downstream and 15 Mbps upstream.

FiOS service areas in California, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington will benefit from the speed increase. Apparently, the 50 Mbps service is already available to FiOS customers in Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.

However, the broadband boost comes with a high price (compared to other countries) -- the 50 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload service will cost $140 per month.

In-Stat believes that this announcement was significant, particularly since U.S. cable operators have been touting the benefits, and speed, of their DOCSIS 3.0 standard for broadband cable services.

An example was the Comcast announcement in April that it was launching its first higher-speed service in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area. The MSO is now offering download speeds of up to 50 Mbps and uploads at 5 Mbps. Monthly service is priced at $150 for residential customers and $200 for commercial customers.

Comcast says it expects to have DOCSIS 3.0 services available to 20 percent of customer homes passed by the end of 2008, with a complete rollout to all homes passed by mid-2010. In the next two years, they "anticipate" increasing download speeds to 100 Mbps, rising to 160 Mbps or more in the future.

In-Stat cautions, however, that it's important to remember that while broadband service providers tend to highlight their fastest service offering, few of their subscribers actually get that kind of speed.

In fact, recent In-Stat market studies shows that the average U.S. broadband connection currently provides just 3.8 Mbps for downloads, and 1 Mbps for uploads. Therefore, "real broadband" speeds appear to elude most Americans.