Netflix pegs Google, Verizon as fastest US ISPs

Michelle Clancy | 13-12-2012

Fibre-fed IPTV services take the honours for the fastest ISPs in the United States, with Google and Verizon FiOS topping new speed rankings from streaming giant Netflix.
The over-the-top behemoth has started ranking the ISPs that carry its traffic this month. "Our 30 million members view over one billion hours of Netflix per month, so we have very reliable data for consumers to compare ISPs in terms of real world performance," said Ken Florance, vice president of content delivery at Netflix, in a blog post.

Google Fiber, which has been launching a 1Gbps IPTV+broadband service in Kansas City, offers Netflix users an average speed of 2.55Mbps, edging out Verizon, which stands at an average of 2.19Mbps. Comcast (2.17Mbps), Charter (2.17Mbps) and Cablevision (2.15Mbps) followed with near-imperceptible speed differences.

Any reliance on copper for signal delivery to the home brought the throughputs significantly down, however. For instance, AT&T U-verse uses a fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) architecture meant to combat both copper's distance sensitivity and fibre trenching costs by building out fibre neighbourhoods but then leveraging copper connections inside the home for final delivery. But its average speed came in at a distant 1.94Mbps.
"AT&T U-verse, which is a hybrid fibre-DSL service, shows quite poorly compared to Verizon FiOS, which is pure fibre," Florance wrote. He added that "broadly, cable showed better than DSL."
To that point, AT&T's pure-copper DSL service showed at 1.42Mbps, beating Verizon's 1.37Mbps average.
When it came to wireless, Verizon Wireless had a 40% higher performance than AT&T with an average of 0.76Mbps. It was followed by T-Mobile at 0.64Mbps, Sprint at 0.56Mbps and, finally, AT&T at 0.48Mbps.
For all providers, "the average performance is well below the peak performance due to a variety of factors including home Wi-Fi, a variety of devices and a variety of encodes," said Florance. "The relative ranking, however, should be an accurate indicator of relative bandwidth typically experienced across all users, homes and applications."