FCC report: US broadband speeds tripled between 2011 and 2014

Improvements were uneven, however, and the US still trails other nations in average broadband speeds.

When it comes to broadband Internet connection speeds in the United States, there’s both good news and bad news to report. The good news is that average download speeds for American broadband subscribers has tripled between 2011 and 2014. The bad news? The US still has a lot of catching up to do.

According to the FCC’s fifth Measuring Broadband America report, the average download speed in the US hit 31 megabits per second (Mbps) in September 2014. That compares favorably to an average download speed of 10Mbps in March 2011 and 15Mbps in September 2012.  

Although it’s unclear where the United States broadband speeds ranked in September of 2014, the US ranked 25th in broadband speeds out of 39 nations sampled in 2013, Reuters notes

Why this matters: In terms of broadband speeds, the United States has lagged behind other industrialized nations for some time now. The US ranked 16th globally in a 2007 study and 25th in the world in 2010. The comparatively slow connection speeds are due in large part to outdated infrastructure, as Gizmodo noted last March.

For its part, the FCC is working to improve matters: In January of last year, the agency redefined so-called “advanced broadband,” requiring it to reach download speeds of 25Mbps or faster. Under the old rules, advanced broadband only had to clear the 4-megabit-per-second threshold. Prior to that, the FCC passed new rules requiring ISPs to offer download speeds of at least 10Mbps in order to qualify for certain federal subsidies.

Cable makes massive speed gains, DSL remains flat

Cable Internet would seem to have fueled the overall speed increases in the US. The top advertised DSL speeds reached up to 40Mbps in 2014, according to the FCC, while the fastest cable tiers reached speeds advertised up to 105Mbps.

Cable’s most popular service tiers saw significant speed increases, going from the 12- to 30-megabit-per-second range in 2011 to 50-150Mbps in 2011, the FCC notes.

Improved technology gave cable a leg up between 2011 and 2014, while the maximum advertised DSL speeds between 2011 and 2014 were “generally unchanged,” according to the FCC.

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