We present the first study of network access link performance measured directly from home gateway devices. Policymakers, ISPs, and users are increasingly interested in studying the performance of Internet access links. Because of many confounding factors in a home network or on end hosts, however, thoroughly understanding access network performance requires deploying measurement infrastructure in users’ homes as gateway devices. In conjunction with the Federal Communication Commission’s study of broadband Internet access in the United States, we study the throughput and latency of network access links using longitudinal measurements from nearly 4,000 gateway devices across 8 ISPs from a deployment of over 4,200 devices. We study the performance users achieve and how various factors ranging from the user’s choice of modem to the ISP’s traffic shaping policies can affect performance. Our study yields many important findings about the characteristics of existing access networks. Our findings also provide insights into the ways that access network performance should be measured and presented to users, which can help inform ongoing broader efforts to benchmark the performance of access networks.

Related Insights

Working Paper

Best Practices for Collecting Speed Test Data

A set of recommendations for gathering and analyzing crowdsourced speed test measurements to support broadband investment allocation.
Aug 12, 2022
Working Paper

Internet Inequity in Chicago: Adoption, Affordability, and Availability

A study of Internet equity in Chicago that considers disparities in Internet availability, affordability, and adoption across urban communities.
Aug 08, 2022
Working Paper

Benchmarks or Equity? A New Approach to Measuring Internet Performance

A new approach to measuring Internet performance that rests on comparisons of multiple performance metrics across geographies.
Aug 03, 2022