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Internet Speed Test

Study: Fargo Internet 30 percent slower than advertised

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FARGO -- New data shows that residential Internet customers here might not be getting all the downloading horsepower they're paying for.

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Median download speeds for Fargo residents are about 30 percent slower than what Internet service providers are advertising, according to a yearlong study by broadband testing and network diagnostic company Ookla.

Grand Forks fared much better. Median download speeds for residents there were about 8 percent faster than advertised.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, Ookla compiled data from tens of millions of speed tests as well as surveys of 646,404 users of its online speed test - Speedtest.net - over the past 12 months.

The study found that a vast majority of Internet service providers across the nation were advertising faster speeds than what customers actually received.

Actual median residential download speeds provided by Cable One, a major ISP in Fargo, were 30 percent slower than advertised, according to the study.

Century Link also was sluggish. Its median residential download speeds were 17 percent slower than advertised.

Median residential download speeds across all ISPs in Fargo were about 30 percent slower than advertised, according to the study. Upload speeds were about 23 percent slower than advertised.

On the other hand, Midcontinent Communications, which is expanding cable and Internet service to Fargo residents starting this year, did well in the study. Median residential download speeds for Midcontinent were 8 percent faster than advertised.

Download speeds in Grand Forks, which already has a Midcontinent network, were second best out of the 800 cities included in the analysis. Trenton, N.J., came in first.

"We like those numbers," said Tom Simmons, senior vice president of public policy at Midcontinent. "It kind of confirms what we already know. And we're excited about the system that we're building in Fargo because it is going to be the most sophisticated system that we offer."

Midcontinent will start building out in Fargo as soon as possible this year, Simmons said. The expected build out timeline is about three years, but they'll be offering services as they build, he said.

Scott Geston, general manager of Cable One in Fargo, said the study was done over the past 12 months, so it isn't a "current snapshot." Cable One recently invested $60 million into infrastructure improvements company-wide, including $2.6 million in Fargo, he said.

"It's improving the reliability and accountability of our Internet, cable and phone service," Geston said.

Residents in Minot, which also has a Midcontinent network, also had better Internet speeds than Fargo. Median residential download speeds there were about 1 percent faster and upload speeds 9 percent slower than advertised.

When asked about the comparison to Midcontinent, Geston said Midco has a smaller network.

"They're probably going to have fewer customers sharing that network," he said, which could translate to faster download speeds.

Fargo lags behind

When it came to median residential Internet speed, several regional metro areas fared better than Fargo, according to the Ookla data.

Download speeds in Sioux Falls, S.D., were 2.6 percent faster and upload speeds were just 3 percent slower than advertised.

Median download speeds in St. Cloud, Minn., were about 1.6 percent faster than advertised. Its median upload speeds were 14 percent slower than advertised.

The median residential upload speeds in Maple Grove, Minn., topped the charts - 11 percent better than advertised. Download speeds there were just 2 percent slower than advertised.

In Minneapolis, median download speeds were about 12 percent slower and upload speeds 16 percent slower than advertised.

Median download speeds in Duluth, Minn., were about 13 percent slower and its upload speeds 24 percent slower than advertised.

Geston said customers have some control over their Internet speed. If a customer purchases a faster Internet package from their ISP but doesn't also upgrade their modem at home, they likely won't see faster speeds, he said.

"There's a lot of different variables that go into this," he said.

Internet speeds

Here's how regional cities stacked up when comparing median residential download and upload speeds, expressed as a percentage of the advertised speed from service providers, over the past 12 months.

Fargo

• Median residential download: 70 percent.

• Median residential upload: 77 percent.

Grand Forks

• Median residential download: 108 percent.

• Median residential upload: 98 percent.

Minot, N.D.

• Median residential download: 101 percent.

• Median residential upload: 91 percent.

Sioux Falls, S.D.

• Median residential download: 103 percent.

• Median residential upload: 97 percent.

Minneapolis

• Median residential download: 88 percent.

• Median residential upload: 84 percent.

St. Cloud, Minn.

• Median residential download: 102 percent.

• Median residential upload: 86 percent.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, Ookla

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