FWA performance 'middle of the pack' in many US markets – Opensignal
Fixed wireless access (FWA) services have been raking in the subs, but their overall performance tends to fall in the "middle of the pack" when compared to incumbent cable operators and telcos, according to Opensignal's first-ever study focused on the US fixed broadband market.
A company known for its wireless and mobile performance reports, Opensignal said it analyzed real-world data across 25 major markets to assess the overall fixed broadband experience.
That assessment, made between April and October 2022, spanned six different measures:
- Broadband success rate (average proposition of successfully completed tests relative to all tests executed for each unique Wi-Fi network on each broadband provider)
- Broadband consistent quality (the user experience across common application requirements, such as speed, latency, jitter and packet loss)
- Broadband video experience (scores based on parameters such as startup times, video quality and rebuffering times)
- Broadband download speeds
- Peak download speed
- Peak upload speed
The results varied by market, depending on the level of competition from cable operators, telcos and FWA service providers. But Opensignal said the data pointed to some general, high-level findings:
- 5G FWA players are "typically middle of the pack" across the six measures, with incumbent cable and telecom operators usually beating them – "at least for now."
- In most markets, cable operators posted the highest broadband download speed scores. Fiber players are "changing this situation, but in the 25 cities analyzed in this report they lead in a minority."
- Across many markets, the incumbent telco tends to come out on top for upload speeds. Opensignal noted that AT&T, Frontier or Verizon have "substantial leads" over the next best provider thanks to their fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) footprints.
Opensignal is providing full access to the market-by-market report today, but here's a snapshot of how service providers stacked up in a set of major metro areas and smaller cities:
New York, Newark, Jersey City
Verizon was tops in three categories – broadband peak download speed, broadband upload speed and average broadband consistent quality. Verizon also outperformed Optimum (Altice USA), Comcast and Spectrum (Charter Communications) in several categories. However, Charter was tops in broadband download speed, edging out Verizon.
T-Mobile's 5G Home Internet service was in the middle on broadband success rate and at the bottom with respect to broadband consistent quality. But it fared very well on upload speeds, second only to Verizon.
Denver, Aurora and Lakewood, Colorado
Comcast took the top spot in three categories (broadband video experience, broadband download speed and peak broadband download speed), with CenturyLink/Lumen leading the way on upload speed – more than twice what Comcast and T-Mobile delivered.
Opensignal found that Comcast underperformed during peak hours.
Los Angeles, Long Beach and Anaheim, California
Cox Communications serves a small part of the market, yet led in three categories and shared the top spot in two others. Where Charter tangles with AT&T and Frontier, it won on two key metrics: broadband video experience and broadband download speed. Frontier topped upload speeds in the market, followed by AT&T and T-Mobile.
Portland, Vancouver, Hillsboro (Oregon and Washington)
T-Mobile's 5G FWA service posted the best average broadband download speed, outpacing Comcast, Ziply Fiber and CenturyLink/Lumen. Ziply Fiber was tops in broadband video experience but was edged out by Comcast on broadband download speed, peak download speed and average broadband consistent quality.
- Cable broadband: More than a speed saga
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- Comcast's multi-gig network upgrade to cost less than $200 per home passed
- Ziply Fiber goes wide with 2-Gig and 5-Gig broadband tiers
- AT&T's fiber sub base surpasses its 'non-fiber' base
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading