ISP Performance numbers from Netflix

Interesting numbers from the Netflix Tech Blog.

Several things jump out at me. First, cable is faster than DSL, and wireless is the slowest. Second, again no surprise, urban is faster than rural. But the big surprise to me is the Verizon number. They have spent a ton on FIOS, and according to Trefis about half of Verizon’s broadband customers are now on FiOS. So according to these numbers, even if we supposed that Verizon’s non-FiOS customers were getting a bandwidth of zero, the average bandwidth available to a FiOS customer appears to be less than 5 megabits per second.

Since FiOS is a very fast last mile, the bottleneck might be in the backhaul, or, more likely, in some bandwidth-throttling device. Whichever way you slice it, it’s hard to cast these numbers in a positive light for Verizon.

Netflix measurements of ISP bandwidth
Update January 31, 2011: This story in the St. Louis Business Journal says that the Charter, the ISP with the best showing in the Netflix measurements, is increasing its speed further, with no increase in price. This is good news. It is time that ISPs in the US started to compete on speed.

Contemplating the graphs, the lines appear to cluster to some extent in three bands, centered on 1.5 mbps, 2 mbps and 2.5 mbps. If this is evidence of traffic shaping, these are the numbers that ISPs should be using in their promotional materials, rather than the usual “up to” numbers that don’t mention minimums or averages.

Nokia’s WiMAX “Phone”

Reuters picked up on one little sentence buried in a Nokia press release entitled “Nokia Demonstrates Leadership in Technologies for Internet on Mobile Devices at Web 2.0 Expo.” The relevant paragraph, in its entirety, reads:

“Nokia Shows Commitment to WiMAX as Web 2.0 Enabler

“Nokia is dedicating significant research, development and intellectual property to WiMAX and supports efforts in making it a global broadband standard. The combination of WiMAX broadband technology and Web 2.0 services offers people an enriched high-speed Internet experience free from the desktop PC. Nokia plans to bring its first WiMAX enabled mobile device to market in early 2008.”

With no apparent evidence, the headline of the Reuter’s story mentioned the word “phone,” and the Internet echo chamber commenced to spawn dozens of stories saying that Nokia is going to release a WiMAX phone in 2008. Actually it looks more as though they are talking about an Internet Tablet like their N800, which is much less exciting.

A Nokia phone based on WiMAX would either have to have a regular cellular radio for the voice channel, or it would use WiMAX for voice. A phone that uses WiMAX for voice would most likely be aimed at a wireless Internet provider that doesn’t have a cellular network, for example ClearWire in the USA. This would put a date on their anticipated entry into mobile voice over WiMAX to compete with the incumbent cellular operators.

But that’s not what the press release says.