Over the past year, U.S. broadband service providers have made significant strides in closing the gap between actual download speeds and advertised rates, concludes a report issued by the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau last Thursday. Titled Measuring Broadband America 2012, the report is the second on broadband speeds compiled by the FCC and depicts substantial improvement throughout the industry since the release of the agency’s first report last year. In its initial report last August, the FCC found that U.S. Internet service providers (ISPs) delivered, on average, 87% of advertised download speeds to users during peak usage periods. However, for the latest report, data gathered from ISPs that represent more than 80% of U.S. residential broadband subscribers show that average download speeds have since risen by nine percentage points to 96% of marketed speeds. As in last August’s report, the 2012 report depicted varying levels of speed reliability according to the type of technology used. For example, providers of broadband services over digital subscriber lines delivered average actual download speeds at 84% of the advertised rate, while providers of cable-based broadband and fiber-to-the-home services (such as Verizon FiOS) delivered average speeds at 99% and 117% of advertised rates, respectively. The FCC also cited a 15% reduction in the standard deviation for download speeds across DSL, cable and fiber platforms, which, according to the FCC, means ISPs “are doing a better job of delivering what they promise.” While attributing the higher speeds to “improvements in network performance,” the FCC also claimed, “there is evidence that our August 2011 report helped prompt these changes.” Despite the improvements cited in the FCC report, a study, issued last week by the New America Foundation, which compares high-speed Internet offerings in 22 cities across the globe maintains that U.S. providers still have ground to cover in matching the speeds offered by their foreign counterparts. As the New America report asserted that “the Internet download speed Washington, D.C. residents can get for roughly $35 would be over 20 times faster in Hong Kong for around the same price,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski admitted that the issue of download speed is one “that we need to continue to make progress on in the U.S.”