Who’s got the fastest internet speeds in all of America? 4G? AT&T? Verizon? Spectrum? Cox? Xfinity? Google Fiber? It doesn’t matter who wins the bragging rights because real world internet speeds are much less than advertised speeds.
Well, what about 5G? Isn’t the upcoming standard supposed to be so fast it will leave fiber optic connections in the dust? Meh. Fiber is already dusty. What’s worse? 4G. DSL maybe. Again, none of those promoted, advertised, or pie-in-the-sky speeds matter because the public internet itself is the crimp in the connection.
Speed bumps abound on the internet and it doesn’t matter if you’re using the 2,000 Mbps that Xfinity advertises or the reality of 21 Mbps you can only capture the internet on whatever device you’re using as the internet connection can run.
Does that make sense?
In other words, there is a difference between theoretical connection speed, and actual speed. Catherine McNally grabbed data from an FCC report to show which providers are in the fast lane and which are slower than promised.
All of them are slower than advertised. None of them deliver what they advertise because access to the interwebs as we know them, well, depends on too many factors beyond your cellphone provider or ISP (internet service provider). For example, Xfinity claims as much as 2,000 Mbps, but delivers, on average 52 Mbps in the U.S. and half that in some regions.
The internet itself is what slows things down, not necessarily your cellphone provider or ISP. There is also the factor of how many people in your household– or how many cellphone customers are banging on the nearest tower– use the connection at the same time. The more devices that use the same connection to stream Netflix, YouTube, iTunes, Apple Music or whatever else occupies more space in the pipe matters.
One user with access to 100 Mbps might have a faster connection that 10 users on 300 Mbps.
What about 5G?
Won’t that new standard be so fast and so ubiquitous that you won’t even need a home connection and ISP or Wi-Fi?
No. First, it might be a decade before 5G is as prolific and ubiquitous as the much slower 4G LTE is now, but we’re still facing the same problem. Speed bumps. Your connection to a website is only as fast as the slowest point between you and their website servers. StateTech has an interactive map which shows average internet connection speed in every state. Here in Chicagoland I’m happy to get download speeds of 25 Mbps, but the state average is barely 18 Mbps.
Who gets the fastest?
Maybe this is like education and healthcare. It’s a Red State Blue State thing. Almost. East Coast states rank higher than Southern or Plains States– but not by much. It’s scary what you pay for vs. what you get and 5G won’t change that much.
Here’s hoping Apple is working on its own iCloud VPN service, huh?