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Cox and AT&T lead speed rankings in latest Ookla report

In the fourth quarter of 2023 Cox achieved the highest median download speed of 261.27 Mbps, outpacing other leading fixed broadband providers in the U.S, according to data from Ookla. Cox had overtaken Charter for the fastest download speeds in the previous quarter.

In Q4 Spectrum maintained second at 252.71 Mbps. AT&T Internet came in third at 244.88 Mbps, followed by Xfinity (238.9 Mbps), Frontier (221.01 Mbps), Optimum (211.14 Mbps) and Verizon (202.21 Mbps).

During that period AT&T Internet maintained its position as having the fastest median upload speed among fixed broadband providers, at 195.64 Mbps. That’s a slight increase from its Q3 average of 188.60 Mbps. Frontier was a close second at 185.07 Mbps and Verizon trailed with a median of 102.27 Mbps.

In the distance, Cox had a median upload speed of 34 Mbps, followed by Optimum (29.8 Mbps), Xfinity (22.89 Mbps) and Spectrum (15.60 Mbps). Ookla’s analysis over the last three quarters have shown cable giants Cox, Charter and Comcast trailing median upload rates from their competitors. That might be because fiber providers have pushed symmetrical speeds, whereas cable operators have continued serving asymmetrical offerings, as Fierce has previously noted. 

Although, Comcast was the first to deploy DOCSIS 4.0 last year, touting new 2-gig symmetrical speeds in one market.

In December, Ookla ranked countries with the fastest fixed download speeds, and the U.S. came in sixth place with a median download of slightly above 200 Mbps. That was a 26% improvement from Ookla’s Q3 2022 data, and upload speeds improved by 7%. However, the U.S.’ Ookla ranking went unchanged from 2022, while countries like the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Singapore are leading the way in fixed network speeds.

In the U.S., the current standard for fixed broadband speeds is 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload, but the federal government is looking into changing that. The FCC in November released a Notice of Inquiry that proposed increasing the national benchmark to 100/20 Mbps.

Ookla described the FCC’s move as “in line with the demand for faster network performance in the market.” It also called the U.S. a “very competitive” broadband market, as technologies like fiber, cable and fixed wireless access are all “vying for customers.”

As for Ookla’s other Q4 metrics, Verizon had the lowest median multi-server latency for top fixed providers during the quarter at 15 milliseconds. Frontier was next (17ms), followed by AT&T Internet (22ms), Optimum (23ms), Cox (25ms), Xfinity (26ms) and Spectrum (32ms).

In measuring the consistency of each fixed broadband provider's performance, Ookla said there was no statistical winner during the fourth quarter. Spectrum had a consistency score showing that 92% of its results had at least 25 Mbps download speeds and 3 Mbps upload speeds. Xfinity had a consistency score of 91.7%, with Cox (91%), Optimum (89.9%), Verizon (88.1%), AT&T Internet (86.5%) and Frontier (84.4%) completing the list.

Download speeds by location

At the state level, Ookla’s Q4 data showed Rhode Island with the fastest median download speeds over fixed broadband in the U.S. quarter at 257.48 Mbps. Connecticut was second (244.23 Mbps), Florida third (238.3 Mbps), Delaware fourth (237.42 Mbps) and New Hampshire fifth (234.5 Mbps).

Wyoming had the slowest median download speed at 105.23 Mbps. Montana was next slowest, then Alaska, New Mexico and Idaho.

Spectrum was the fastest fixed broadband provider in eight states during the quarter. Xfinity was fastest in six, Google Fiber in five, and AT&T Internet and Cox each were fastest in three. Verizon claimed that title in two states. Allo, Bluepeak, C Spire, Connect2First, Frontier, GCI, MetroNet, Midco, SRT, USI and Ziply Fiber were each fastest in one state.

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