Comcast and Verizon Fios lose top spots in PC Magazine’s fastest ISP ranking

Verizon sign

Regional fiber provider Hotwire Communications has taken the title belt from Comcast and Verizon Fios in PC Magazine’s influential ranking of the fastest ISPs.

According to the publication’s survey of U.S. ISP download speeds, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Hotwire, which primarily supplies a small footprint of East Coast multidwelling units with fiber-based internet, finished first with an average speed of 91.3 Mbps. 

Hotwire beat out Suddenlink Communications (49.1 Mbps), as well as last year’s top two finishers, Verizon Fios (48.3 Mbps) and Comcast (46.6 Mbps).

The PC Magazine ranking does have relevance in the sense that many ISPs use higher rankings in marketing collateral. 

Despite all the gigabit-speed and DOCSIS 3.1 rollout announcements over the last 12 months, the publication noted that speeds have largely remained flat year over year.

For example, both Comcast and Verizon actually saw their average speeds drop from 49.6 Mbps in 2016.

"Despite cable companies—the major broadband providers in the U.S.—rolling out more and more of the latest high-end modems to customers to increase speeds, and the advent of more and more fiber-to-the-home (or to-the-premises) coverage in select areas, it's not having much impact, on average," PC Magazine said in its report. "On the world stage, the U.S. isn't even close to the top 10 countries when it comes to average broadband speed."

Notable was the difference in speeds between Altice USA’s two recent U.S. cable acquisitions. While Suddenlink finished No. 2 at 49.1 Mbps—the result of investments in its cable network infrastructure—the erstwhile Cablevision (now called Optimum) lagged in the No. 8 spot at 39.6 Mbps. Altice is early in the process to converting the Optimum network to FTTH. 

Number 6 cable operator WideOpenWest finished at the bottom of PC Mag’s rankings, averaging 26.7 Mbps.