Reality Check

Reality Check

Vets the truthfulness of claims and measures the efficacy of public policy

Reality Check: AT&T's New GigaPower Internet Service 100 Times Faster?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AT&T claims its "GigaPower" Internet service will be 100 times faster than your current connection. Is that true? Sam Brock in this edition of Reality Check takes a look. (Published Wednesday, Sep 3, 2014)

    With more and more Americans consuming TV shows and movies online, there’s a race among internet providers to increase broadband speeds and offer the fastest possible speeds.

    A few weeks ago, AT&T jumped into the game when it announced that it was bringing its GigaPower internet service to Cupertino, promising speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second (or 1,000 megabits per second).

    Many news outlets, including NBC Bay Area, were quick to report that the new service would be 100 times faster than average broadband speeds in the United States.

    Is the claim true? And, what kind of internet speeds do Bay Area residents get?

    The claim is true when it comes to the American public as a whole where the average speed is 10 megabits per second (10 Mbps x 100 = 1,000 Mbps). However, when you dive into the average speeds that cities around the Bay Area get, the promise of speeds being 100 times faster starts to fall apart. For example, in San Jose the average speed is 18 megabits per second – that’s only 56 times faster. But next door in Santa Clara, a smaller city, average internet speed is 9.2 megabits per second, which means AT&T’s GigaPower speed would be more than 100 times faster – 109 times faster to be exact.

    To better see how the GigaPower promise of speeds up to 1,000 megabits per second compares to what other Bay Area cities actually get, NBC Bay Area reached out Akamai – a company that tracks global internet speeds and publishes a quarterly report called “State of the Internet.” Researchers at Akamai crunched the numbers and revealed GigaPower’s peak speed in Cupertino would be significantly faster than the average speeds in most Bay Area cities. But the promise of 100 times faster really only holds up for Santa Clara and Palo Alto, as the below chart shows.

    For full disclosure, Comcast is one of the internet service providers in the Bay Area, and Comcast owns NBCUniversal.