Netflix and Akamai Reports Show Sustained Broadband Speeds Falter in U.S.

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Nate Hakken, Reporter,

WASHINGTON, February 7, 2011 – Online content providers Netflix and Akamai released data recently indicating that U.S. internet service providers meet expectations for promised peak broadband speeds, but fall short when it comes to sustained speeds.

Netflix, which offers streaming video on-demand, released data and charts last month through its blog.  The company evaluated sustained downloads as part of its high definition streaming service specific to Internet Service Providers (ISP)s.

According to its data, no ISP in the U.S. sustains Netflix’ ideal speeds for sustained picture quality – but they come close.  The company requires streaming service user to have an internet connection that has a speed of 1.5 Mbps, with a faster 3 Mbps being more ideal.

The online movie provider’s top high-definition stream requires about 4.8 Mbps of bandwidth, although the actual bit rate for the stream would vary while viewing video from the service. For slower connections image quality is scaled back making sustained bandwidth an important measure when watching a video stream.

Netflix filtered data for the report to only contain titles that had high definition video streams and devices capable of playing back in these streams (wireless networks were excluded). The results show that most ISPs average well above the minimum requirement bandwidth,  Cable modem services appear to be better than most digital subscriber line (DSL) connections for supporting high-definition video streams as cable provider, Charter, led the way, followed by Comcast, Cox, and Time-Warner. Notably, no distinction was made in the report between Verizon’s Fiber optic network and its DSL offerings, they were presented as a single ISP.

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About Mark Milliman

Mark Milliman is a Principal Consultant at Inphotonics Research driving the adoption and assisting local governments to plan, build, operate, and lease access open-access municipal broadband networks. Additionally, he works with entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to increase the value of their intellectual capital through the creation of strategic product plans and execution of innovative marketing strategies. With more than 22 years of experience in the telecommunications industry that began at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Mark has built fiber, cable, and wireless networks around the world to deliver voice, video, and data services. His thorough knowledge of all aspects of service delivery from content creation to the design, operation, and management of the network is utilized by carriers and equipment manufacturers. Mark conceived and developed one of the industry's first multi-service provisioning platform and is multiple patent holder. He is active in the IEEE as a senior member. Mark received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Iowa State University and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.
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