Verizon tops Ookla’s ISP speed ranking but Comcast is on its heels

Verizon once again delivered the fastest median speeds in the U.S. in Ookla’s Fixed Broadband ranking for Q1 2022, but rival Comcast topped the list in terms of breadth with the fastest speeds in the most states.

In the U.S., median download speeds have steadily risen since the first quarter of 2021, from 111.59 Mbps to 151.46 Mbps as of March 2022, putting the country in eighth place behind the likes of Singapore, Chile, Thailand, Denmark and Monaco.

Ookla CTO Luke Deryckx told Fierce that increased competition is one of the factors driving the rise in fixed speeds in the U.S.

“You have fiber-only or predominantly fiber offerings that are being deployed in places that had traditionally been served by maybe one large incumbent, like a DOCSIS cable operator. And that’s driving competition,” he said.

That’s not just among premium service tiers. “It also drives competition in the mid- and lower tier service offerings, where operators feel compelled to maybe invest more in their network or frankly just turn up additionally capacity that was there in order to give their customers a better experience so they don’t feel like they need to go switch to the new fiber offering that’s being rolled out,” Deryckx added.

Verizon beat out the competition for at least the eighth consecutive quarter, with a median top download speed of 184.36 Mbps. That figure was up year on year from 160.07 Mbps, but down sequentially from 201.10 Mbps in Q4 2021. Comcast was close on its heels in second place with a median top speed of 179.12 Mbps, with Cox Communications following in third with 174.32 Mbps. Charter Communications and AT&T rounded out the top five with 166.46 Mbps and 140.52 Mbps, respectively.

CenturyLink trailed in a distant sixth place, with a median download speed of 40.58 Mbps. Deryckx attributed CenturyLink’s status primarily to a large DSL territory which is offsetting the faster speeds offered in its smaller fiber footprint.

Ookla’s rankings are based on crowd-sourced speed tests conducted by actual users. Since 2019, the company has required companies to have at least 300 unique user results to make its list.

In terms of how widely top speeds were available, Comcast won by a landslide. Its Xfinity brand was the fastest in 13 states during Q1, with Charter’s Spectrum brand following as the fastest in six states. Verizon and Cox took top honors in four states each, while Google Fiber won out in three states and AT&T and MetroNet snagged the number one spot in two states each.

Among the 50 states, New Jersey had the fastest speeds, with a median download rate of 195.20 Mbps. It was followed by New York (179.32), Rhode Island (173.09), Maryland (170.18) and Delaware (169.94).

The CTO noted operators are also increasingly investing in either faster or symmetrical upload speeds. While the balance between uplink and downlink speeds is still heavily weighted toward the latter, that’s something that’s starting to change, he said. Indeed median U.S. upload speeds increased over the past year, albeit less dramatically than download rates, from 16.27 Mbps in February 2021 to 21.30 Mbps in March 2022.