What is happening
Every three months, Ookla announces the results it collects from the information used by millions of customers of its Speedtest.net tool. Consider it a quarterly check on Americans’ speeds from their Internet service providers.
why it matters
We have become increasingly dependent on our home broadband connections for work and play, so the actual performance of those Internet services is important information.
Verizon has been dropped from the mountain. The latest Ookla Speedtest Intelligence report, released in late July, named Cox Communications as the fastest fixed broadband provider among the top US Internet service providers during the second quarter of 2022. To qualify as a top provider, a company must account for 3% or more. Out of the total test samples from Ookla. Verizon was at the top in the first three months of 2022.
In fact, Verizon took the top spot every quarter since the start of 2020. However, Ookla’s report, which uses data from customer-driven queries on Speedtest.net, now uses the median instead of the mean. So we are not comparing apples to apples at all. The image below from Ookla’s site gives an example of the difference.
As an Ookla spokesperson told me via email: “We have implemented this change to more accurately represent the specific performance that consumers actually experience on a network.”
This means that for the second quarter of 2022, Cox was decisively on top with an average download speed of about 197 megabits per second. Runner-up Xfinity achieved an average download speed of 184Mbps. Spectrum was in third place at 183 Mbps, Verizon at 171 Mbps, and AT&T grabbed the top five at about 147 Mbps.
Cox also did well at the regional level. It was the fastest fixed broadband provider in 14 of the nation’s 100 most populous cities, including the fastest US cities – Gilbert, Arizona – as well as Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Diego.
Additionally, it was the fastest ISP in four states: Arizona, Arkansas, Nevada and Oklahoma. Not bad, sure, but Xfinity was top dog in 12 states, Spectrum in seven, and Google Fiber and Verizon each won five states.
Despite its dominating performance at the top of the speed charts, Cox completely missed the top five in terms of fastest upload speeds. It only recorded an average upload speed of 11 Mbps. This was well below the top three providers of Frontier (113 Mbps), Verizon (112 Mbps) and AT&T (112 Mbps). It couldn’t even measure Xfinity (19Mbps), CenturyLink (12Mbps) or Spectrum (11.7Mbps).
This is not completely unexpected. Cable connections from Cox, Spectrum, and Xfinity (or CenturyLink’s DSL network, for that matter) won’t be able to compete with the high upload speeds you can find with fiber-optic Internet connections, which AT&T, Frontier and Verizon all claim a decent percentage within their respective footprints.
As Ookla continues its reporting throughout the year, it will be interesting to see if any trends develop as it establishes the use of the median as its primary performance metric moving forward.