Is Your Internet Service Provider Giving You Enough Bandwidth?

Is your internet service provider (ISP) giving you the bandwidth you’re paying for?  How much bandwidth does the average household need?  The use of internet for downloading music and video and other uses has exploded during recent years.  More devices, such as smart TVs,  game consoles and some household appliances are now making use of the household internet connection.

Recently we covered a news article concerning the New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman lawsuit against Charter, and it’s subsidiary Spectrum (previously Time Warner Cable – TWC). The primary premise of the lawsuit is that Charter and its subsidiaries provided  internet speeds that were significantly slower than what the consumer is paying for.  The article also identified consistent internet outages for those customers.

We thought it would be interesting to use our database of bandwidth data to gain some insight into the actual download bandwidth test results from some of the more popular ISPs.  Obviously, we don’t have visibility of the specific bandwidth plan levels for any given PC that completed our internet speeds test.  However, a 2014 post by the FCC identified that the recommended minimum internet bandwidth for a household with 4 devices (such as a laptop, phone, tablet or game console) with high internet usage is 15 Mbps.

FCC Household Broadband Guide
FCC Household Broadband Guide

Although the FCC report is several years old and internet usage has changed, we used the 15 Mbps as the base for our analysis.

Internet Speed Analysis Methodology

PC Pitstop has offered free internet speed bandwidth testing for years.  Also, the speed tests are part of our PC Matic product which scans PCs internet performance settings.  Basically the test measures how long it takes to download a specific sized test data.  It then captures the speed in Mbps and also the IP address for each PC.   The IP address is a means to identify which ISP the tested PC is using to access the internet.  Our analysis is based on approximately 1.9 million download speed test records across 252,000 unique PCs that were performed during the month of January 2017.

ISP Bandwidth Results

Our initial analysis shows the top 10 most popular ISP based on the number of unique PCs that ran our internet speed tests.  The data shows a fairly pronounced separation of 5 ISP with average download speeds greater than 30 Mbps and the other 5 with less than half of that speed.   This type of analysis  shows the average level of throughput each ISP provides.  However, it is limited in the insight it provides.

Top 10 ISP Bandwidth


Looking at the same data separated into prevalence of Mbps ranges again shows a separation of the two tiers.  The top tier ISP each have 80 to 90 percent of the users with an average download speed over 15 Mbps.   Time Warner Cable trails the top tier group in its ability to provide 15 Mbps to approximately 80% of its customers.

Top 10 ISP Avg Download Speeds


In an attempt to gain a little more insight into the performance of each of the ISPs, we compared the average of all the test results for each PC to the average of the slowest speed reported for each PC.  For example, if a given PC had 3 tests in our data set with speed values of 20, 15 and 10 Mbps, the average of all tests would be 15 Mbps. However, the slowest speed would be 10 Mbps.   The following chart compares the average of all speed tests to the average of the slowest speed tests for each PC tested.

Top 10 ISP with Less Than 15 Mbps

In this chart, the lower the bar the better.  Charter Communications and Time Warner Cable both lost about 20% of customers getting the 15 Mbps speeds when using the slowest speed analysis.  Time Warner  fails to deliver 15 Mbps to almost 39% or their customers when looking at the average slowest test results.  The net take away one can draw from this is that when speeds slow down for Time Warner Cable  and Charter customers, the slowdown is more pronounced than with any of the other popular ISPs.

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32 thoughts on “Is Your Internet Service Provider Giving You Enough Bandwidth?”

  1. I am getting the speed that is promised by my service provider but sometimes I face slow speed due to technical issues but once the issue is resolved the speed is restored.

  2. Anthonie Zapata

    At&t in my area has data caps
    Meaning you only get x amount of gb of internet and haven to pay extra for going over. They had a plan where of you had a certain canker package and internet you could get unlimited but I’ve talked to various tech support people telling me x amount of gb is enough and other people do just fine with with that and me having to explain of I’m paying for going over that amount every month that clearly isn’t enough….

    Needless to say I switched service providers

  3. Verison fiber optic service might be great, but I can’t get it where I am at and have their older hard wire service that really sucks – I only get about half the speed that I’m paying for and their service lines are old and deteriorating, which they refuse to replace, insulation is off wires and green with corrosion and I lose my Internet connection 15 to 20 times a day because of it – every-time I call service repair I get the same old disconnect and reset your router routine which isn’t where the problem is – one time in 5 years they actually sent a (independent) service person – he replaced 2 sections of their lines one 800 yards from my house and another 150 yards away – he even told me their lines weren’t copabale of providing me the service I was paying for – was supposed to get refunds 4 times one for $250 and two for $150, but never received them – they even told me my router was a older slower one and would send a new one free of charge – they sent one, then billed me for it – – So their FIOS might be great but it seems they have totally forgotten their long time customers (over 50 Years) with their older service lines

  4. I have been trying to find out what happened to my internet for a few years. I have been on the same exact plan for years. There are 2 people in the house. We each have a tablet, I have a web enabled phone, and we have Roku in two rooms. We used to use all these electronics at the same time most all day & night. (We are both disabled.) Suddenly, with no change in usage, my bill sent from $50 to over $200. We checked for hacking and everything we could think of. We cut back our use to about half what we were accustomed to. This took the bill to about $150 monthly. We cannot get unlimited were we are. The cap is 150 units for the $50 with $10 for every 50 units we exceed the 150. I have no idea why we suddenly exceed the 150, much less by such extreme amount, even after cutting back on our usage. I cannot find anyone who is able to explain what is going on. It seems you imply there is testing I can do to help explain what’s up. Perhaps give an idea of how to fix the situation. I am open to suggestions. Thank you.

    1. Hey look up they have hotspot you can get for one time fee of 19.99 . gets you a router and then you can get internet for free . no I don’t have it yet myself but I been considering it.

    2. @Karen: Karen, I’m a senior citizen and not tech savvy. Hubby and I have cell phones and are with Consumer Cellular. We have a data plan but we don’t go on the web much. Every now and then hubby will check the weather via his cell. All of a sudden we were notified that our data was almost used up. I went into CC and checked the phones to see what was happening. I found that the Google app on his phone was eating up our data plan.I couldn’t get any answers from anyone as to why Google all of a sudden were causing the waste of out data plan. Every 12 hours Google was using our data. I turned off a few things that said,”if you disable this app it may cause others from not working correctly” or something to that effect. The data is now back to normal.

    3. @Karen: what is the quality of your steaming video? HD quality will eat up more. Roku pushes an HD feed feed for a lot of video now. This may just be due to upgrades in video. Go to your Roku settings to change.

  5. Paying time Warner for 100 speed had it guy from another company to check my speed and with nothing hooked up but the cell phone he was using my speed was 40.

  6. Frontier in upstate NY sucks…to many people on the hub and the host is to far away…please help only option other than Dish

  7. I was wondering how or what do I need to get so that I can share my wi fi with a large group of people? Maybe up to 1000.? Like starting a WiFi company that is just wireless or if you can point me in the right direction. Thank you. Mr Danil Drake

  8. Everyone should move to Chattanooga, TN and get EPB Fiber Optics. 100 Mbps up and down is the slowest speed at $58/month and for $10 more you can get 1 Gbps up and down. Very reliable, very fast, and no throttling or metering of usage. Puts these ISPs to shame.

    1. Ouch! You make me so jealous! !!! We have only one choice and it sucks! It costsaround $60! If I even get close to 4 mb I’m doing good. Upload is 1.something. Try streaming with that dinosaur speed! . Usually the videos stop and start on fb or else they just take forever to load. Time Warner stinks! We had Insight with no problem, my son even live gamed around the world on the cheapest pkg they had. TW bought them out and immediately we had problems. Price went up and the speed went down! And down. Now Spectrum has bought out TW and I guess the same thing is going to happen again. My Mom’s spectrum bill has already raised $4 for nothing! TW never had any technicians worth catcrap. I made them give me 3 different modems before a phone call to an IT fixed it over the phone by a setting. My mom’s cable just cuts off for minutes at a time for no reason. Her phone sometimes does the same. I’m tired of calling them for their poor service!

  9. i have att dsl 3.0 is all i can get im lucky to even surf the web at all i can only use 1 device at a time alot of people in my area would love something better

  10. We live in rural NE OK on Grand Lake. The only Internet service for years was a crappy wireless limited to 3mbps. The local electric utility has been rolling out FTTH throughout the region for several years now. Our drops are going in next week. When they started, 1 gbps was $249 per month and the lowest tier was 20 mbps for $50. The lowest tier is now 100 mbps for $50 and 1 gbps is now $83. This is synchronous service. I’ve talked to a few people who were in the early rollout areas and they’re getting the bandwidth that they’re paying for. If we can get this quality and speed in nowhere Oklahoma, there’s no reason that it can’t be done nationwide.

    1. Well Oklahoma you may have a few 100 thousand people. In big cities where ecomcast is at the are a few million. More peole means more pull on the network.

  11. I pay for Time Warner’s top speed which is supposed to be 50mbps download but I constantly get 70 or better downloads and a consistent 5 mbps to 6 mbps up loads. Can’t complain but more would still be better.

      1. I’m an engineer at a smaller ISP. We’re going to be launching 80/20 soon. If I have my way, well more than triple that in the next six months.

        The tech is there. Been there for years. The problem is that the larger ISP companies know that they can drag out the process for years. Offering small incremental jumps over time to slowly increase prices with negligible gain.

        It’s a money game. That’s all.

  12. When will US internet customers realize that the US has close to the slowest Internet speeds available in the world. Few countries in this world are slower. Only when the poor, deluded customers of US Internet providers revolt against the speeds offered them will the companies involved take action. Not sure what we can do — so many aspects of business in the US depend on the Internet, as slow as it is. If anyone has any ideas, they would be welcome. When we lived in Germany, we had fiber optics INTO OUR HOME. I could use a single DSL phone line and be faster than any Internet provider in the US. Again, WHY DON’T WE DO SOMETHING?? Excuse the shouting — After paying Hughes net and ATT for several years, I finally have a (slow) Internet provider at the price it is worth. Even so, this (slow) connection is faster than Hughes AND ATT.

  13. We’re very pleased with our Verizon FiOS. Their speeds are very consistent and outages are almost non-existent.

    Dale Russell
    Quakertown, PA

  14. We are on Dish/Hughes and can verify that we seldom get >6 mbps anywhere outside of the 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. window outside of their “anytime” 10 gig service to all Dish customers. I have to get up at 3 a.m. to get on line to have better download/upload speeds. I also do not believe their meters to measure the “anytime” usage because we do not use gaming or twitter anymore so that we do not go over the 10 gig allowance or the download speed drops to (0 .6) KBPS. Incredible how the governments allows them to get away with this.

    1. @James Wesse;:

      You wonder why the gov’t let’s them (the providers) get away with this? Well, wait until the new chairman of the FCC fixes things. He opposes net neutrality. He’s all about letting the big providers price things to vastly increase their profits. You can expect your speeds to go down while your fees go up.

      1. They already are. My net bill went up by $5 for no speed increase. Irony is that I’m an engineer at a competitor that just isn’t in the area where I live. I could double my download speed and sectouple (SP?) My upload speed.

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