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FCC Might Tackle 'Up To' Broadband Ad Language
One FCC official wants ISPs to list average access speeds...
by Karl Bode 10:15AM Wednesday Mar 03 2010
While the FCC's national broadband plan pretty clearly won't be tackling competition, one thing it may address are the familiar "up to" speed claims found in most carrier advertisements. A recent agency study found that actual broadband speeds lag advertised speeds by up to 50 to 80 percent, especially during peak usage times (between 7 and 10). The FCC's Peter Bowen tells the Los Angeles Times that the plan might have something in it that requires carriers to list average speeds:
quote:
Peter Bowen, an agency official who is helping draft a National Broadband Plan, told me one possible change could be to require Internet service providers to post average access speeds just like carmakers post average miles per gallon. "This is something we take very seriously," he said. "Consumers need the actual miles per gallon for broadband, not a maximum."
We'll see if this proposal makes the final version, or if plan architect Blair Levin pulls it for fear of making the nation's biggest carriers upset. The Times article goes on to explore how the advertised price is never the actual price paid by the consumer, and the article doesn't even get into how carriers like to use below the line fees to jack up the advertised price after sale.

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pinkp8ther

join:2001-07-20
Clifton Forge, VA

Broadband Speed Ads

Providers will just post their test result speeds. I was just testing my broadband speeds this week. DSLReports' Tests report 300 to 800kbps. My ISP test shows 1,800 to 2,200kbps, even when I go straight to the Testing Services web site I get the same results.

Larry

Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2

2 recommendations

Great idea, wrong agency

The FCC likes to talk more than most PR firms, but they rarely do anything that actually helps the average consumer. So I won't hold my breath on this one.

And this seems to be an issue that falls squarely into the FTC's territory, not the FCC.

Gbcue
Premium
join:2001-09-30
Santa Rosa, CA
kudos:8

1 recommendation

Re: Great idea, wrong agency

I agree, this is an FTC problem.
Mr Matt

join:2008-01-29
Eustis, FL
kudos:1

Lobbyist payola can solve this problem.

Solutions to these kind of problems are just a phone call away, to the bought and paid for federal lawmakers.

Transmaster
Don't Blame Me I Voted For Bill and Opus

join:2001-06-20
Cheyenne, WY
Reviews:
·CenturyLink

Re: Lobbyist payola can solve this problem.

This whole issue is like a practice the car dealers used to do back in the 30's and into the early '50's they would list standard equipment as options and charge for them, heaters, back seats, rear view mirrors etc. This went on until the Car companies finally put their foot down when cheap imported cars such as the Hillman, and Austin, and the Volkswagen started to cut into sales when they where imported in the mid '50's.
--
I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's.
- Mark Twain in Eruption

Bill Dollar

join:2009-02-20
New York, NY

Plan won't be a "Plan" at all...

said by Karl Bode said :
We'll see if this proposal makes the final version, or if plan architect Blair Levin pulls it...

Well, word is that the plan itself won't really make any firm recommendations. Just a bunch of mushy analysis, he said/she said, and possible options. So the "product labeling" thing will just be "the FCC should consider this option..." This "plan" is looking like it will be nothing more than a consultant-written fluff memo.
acoustix

join:2004-01-30
Fort Dodge, IA

Use the proper descriptions in the first place

I really wish that people would stop referring to high speed Internet access as broadband. I realize that the FCC has set guidelines for minimum speeds to be called broadband. While broadband can be considered high speed Internet, high speed Internet is not necessarily broadband.
openbox9
Premium
join:2004-01-26
Germany
kudos:2

Re: Use the proper descriptions in the first place

And bandwidth is not speed. Basic terminology is far too ingrained in many laypersons' vocabularies to hope for changing it now.

drslash
Goya Asma
Premium
join:2002-02-18
Marion, IA

1 recommendation

24 hour average no good

A 24 hour average of speeds won't be informative. The peak time average speed is what will give the consumer the information they need.

88615298
Premium
join:2004-07-28
West Tenness

1 recommendation

Not always ISPs fault

Even this site has tweak test and I can attest that using such a test and adjusting RWIN when it's off can increase speeds. How is that the ISPs fault? If you have cable internet and the cable running through your house is old or you have it sliced off many times how is less than advertised speeds the ISPs fault? if you have mulitple connections running or an unsecured wi-fi connection the whole neighborhood uses for internet how is that the ISPs fault? I've had people complain about slow internet and a slow computer then it turn out their computer is full of spyware and/or viruses. Or complain about slow internet and I see their computer is 7-8 years old running a PIII CPU and only has 256 MB of RAM and wants to blame the ISP because they can't watch streaming video. yeah ok.

I would suspect 50%-80% of the people getting less than advertised speeds are to blame for their own problem. But hey it's easier to blame the ISP than to learn about how to properly enable your connection.

Simba7
I Void Warranties

join:2003-03-24
Billings, MT

2 edits

Re: Not always ISPs fault

Hey.. My main router runs on a Dual PIII@1GHz with 512MB of RAM.. Of course, it also runs Linux. I've even had an old PI@166MHz handling my 15mbps link just fine.

But yes, that's for routing traffic and being a file/web/proxy server. Actually viewing a recent web page would be a pain on anything lower than a PIII@1GHz. Most even require a decent P4 to minimally function due to the massive flash content.
--
Bresnan 15M/1M
MyWS[P4HT@3.2GHz,2GB RAM,2x1TB HDDs,Win7]
WifeWS[P4HT@3GHz,2GB RAM,60GB HDD,Win7]
Router[2xP3@1GHz,512MB RAM,18GB HDD,SMC 8432BTA,2xDigital DE504,Compaq NC3131,Intel Pro/1000MT,IBM Gigabit Ethernet-SX,Allied Telesyn AT-2560FX,Gentoo Linux]

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5
said by 88615298:

Even this site has tweak test and I can attest that using such a test and adjusting RWIN when it's off can increase speeds. How is that the ISPs fault? If you have cable internet and the cable running through your house is old or you have it sliced off many times how is less than advertised speeds the ISPs fault? if you have mulitple connections running or an unsecured wi-fi connection the whole neighborhood uses for internet how is that the ISPs fault? I've had people complain about slow internet and a slow computer then it turn out their computer is full of spyware and/or viruses. Or complain about slow internet and I see their computer is 7-8 years old running a PIII CPU and only has 256 MB of RAM and wants to blame the ISP because they can't watch streaming video. yeah ok.

I would suspect 50%-80% of the people getting less than advertised speeds are to blame for their own problem. But hey it's easier to blame the ISP than to learn about how to properly enable your connection.
Just part of the dumbing down of America. They don't read anything longer than a text msg and they expect everyone else to solve all their problems for them.
Turbocpe
Premium
join:2001-12-22
IA

1 edit
Nice, made up, figure. Any sources to support that claim?
I've been a customer for over 10 years and have often seen it be an over utilization issue - you know, since ISPs oversubscribe.

said by 88615298 See Profile

I would suspect 50%-80% of the people getting less than advertised speeds are to blame for their own problem. But hey it's easier to blame the ISP than to learn about how to properly enable your connection.
[/BQUOTE :



Fox McCloud
Crazy like a fox.

join:2006-07-23

2 recommendations

Re: Not always ISPs fault

said by Turbocpe:

Nice, made up, figure. Any sources to support that claim?
I've been a customer for over 10 years and have often seen it be an over utilization issue - you know, since ISPs oversubscribe.
in no way did he say it was an official figure, he merely said he "suspected".

Also, ALL ISPs oversubscribe, or else it wouldn't be a profitable service; if they had 100% bandwidth for 100% of their customers, the prices you and I would pay would be astronomically higher than we currently pay.
Turbocpe
Premium
join:2001-12-22
IA

1 edit

Re: Not always ISPs fault

I realize the oversubscribe model, which is why I noted it, and it serves as good counterpoint to the "50%-80%" of people with speed issues are not the ISPs fault argument. I grant there's likely many cases where it's not the ISP's fault (either the customer's equipment, the end destination, or a possible backbone issue), but that figure is quite high given the fact that we know ISPs are built on the oversubscribe model.

Bandwidth usage is not decreasing. If ISPs don't keep up, or wait until it's too late, customers will (and do) see speed issues.

Of course, we don't have to get into the debate about cost factor. It's pretty obvious that we lack behind other countries in regard to speed and sometimes cost.

said by Fox McCloud:

said by Turbocpe:

Nice, made up, figure. Any sources to support that claim?
I've been a customer for over 10 years and have often seen it be an over utilization issue - you know, since ISPs oversubscribe.
in no way did he say it was an official figure, he merely said he "suspected".

Also, ALL ISPs oversubscribe, or else it wouldn't be a profitable service; if they had 100% bandwidth for 100% of their customers, the prices you and I would pay would be astronomically higher than we currently pay.

Simba7
I Void Warranties

join:2003-03-24
Billings, MT

1 edit

Re: Not always ISPs fault

said by Turbocpe:

I realize the oversubscribe model, which is why I noted it, and it serves as good counterpoint to the "50%-80%" of people with speed issues are not the ISPs fault argument. I grant there's likely many cases where it's not the ISP's fault (either the customer's equipment, the end destination, or a possible backbone issue), but that figure is quite high given the fact that we know ISPs are built on the oversubscribe model.
One reason they do this is because every ISP (including mine) would require a (1mbpsx10000users=10GigE) link on their backbone. Do you honestly think most states have a 40GigE or 100GigE fiber going through them? I highly doubt it. Most are lucky to have a OC12 or 24. A few an OC3.

Some people think DSL is the answer.. Wrong.. Any DSL ISP is as guilty as any other ISP when it comes to oversubscribing.

Bandwidth is not *infinite* as most people think. Plus, you can't instantly lay new fiber (do you realize how much a mile of fiber costs?).

Ideally, each state should have a 100GigE (or TerE) Backbone, then interconnect each state via a 100GigE (or TerE) connection. Then bandwidth shouldn't be much of an issue.
--
Bresnan 15M/1M
MyWS[P4HT@3.2GHz,2GB RAM,2x1TB HDDs,Win7]
WifeWS[P4HT@3GHz,2GB RAM,60GB HDD,Win7]
Router[2xP3@1GHz,512MB RAM,18GB HDD,SMC 8432BTA,2xDigital DE504,Compaq NC3131,Intel Pro/1000MT,IBM Gigabit Ethernet-SX,Allied Telesyn AT-2560FX,Gentoo Linux]

David
I start new work on
Premium,VIP
join:2002-05-30
Granite City, IL
kudos:101
Reviews:
·DIRECTV
·AT&T Midwest
·magicjack.com
·Google Voice
said by Turbocpe:

Nice, made up, figure. Any sources to support that claim?
I've been a customer for over 10 years and have often seen it be an over utilization issue - you know, since ISPs oversubscribe.
Oh I have plenty of proof! Here's a few of my favorites.

1.) testing their speeds over a VPN connection- Uhh you are testing your corporate network and at last check most VPN's start having connection problems if the MTU is higher than 1300. If your office isn't using a connection speed greater than the T-1, where is your VPN connection going to see 6mbps at?

2.) Synced to their neighbor's wireless at 2.0MB down the street- Here's a clue... you won't get 5.1Mbps if you are not connected to your own equipment! (he actually sent me a screenshot proving he wasn't connected to his own 2wire he paid for!)

3.)Unsecured wireless (this one is my favorite!)- They wonder why their speeds tanked when their neighbors said "Oh look it's Linksys!" (insert leo laporte video here for reference)

4.)using an older network card- My personal favorite was the guy that had elite speeds and had a ISA 10MB network card. Even had the BNC connector on the back next to the Ethernet port! Hey sparky... let's get 2002 compliant shall we? or hell 2000 for that matter!

5.)known firmware issues on 3rd party routers- Had a guy that just bought a brand new dlink router, "Oh no it couldn't be that I just bought a new one!". Had the customer try just a computer and modem and had full speed. Still wasn't satisfied! Sent a field tech @ no charge just to prove it. 2 weeks later I see a post over in the dlink forum here where someone told him that they had that problem and to download the latest firmware it was a firmware problem!

6.)Bad network cards/operating system problem- here's a clue... if you go to another machine and your speeds are acceptable but not on the machine you are worried about, don't you think it would make sense to investigate the machine that is having the problem? No... let's post a direct thread and then get disappointed and angry at me when everything tests good (and on top of that I even show you the stats!) it's as if I was making it up or something!

7.)Spyware/malware- If your machine is starting to turn into your TV by interrupting you with a commercial every 5 minutes, don't you think it's time to investigate that problem? No, it's better to contact me when you can't see your desktop background on your computer and getting 50x as many ads as there was on tv.

8.)Tell your router your connection speed- yea even people who operate the routers sometimes forget to tell the router their connection speed (especially if they upgraded!).

9.)speed test sites (another personal favorite)- had a guy get angry at us once when he couldn't get above 3mbps at this only one speed test site. Guy cussed at us for 2 months straight (we couldn't find a thing wrong and neither could two techs!). Disconnected and went to comcast, found out was getting the same speeds he was on the DSL. Everyone pretty much told him that speed test server must be capped at 3mbps so he isn't going to get 6mbps. Made the invitation to come back to yell at us (at the time elite was a $44.95 promo for life!) because we didn't fix it. I reminded him that several of us asked him to try a different speed test site (even ours) and he wouldn't do it. We were dammed if we did, or dammed if we didn't. We didn't win either way.

10.) Bit-torrent/p2p apps- Ahh yes, here's a clue if you saturate your connection and then wonder why you are getting 100/150 on speed tests with the modem constantly dropping the connection, don't you think you should kill the bit-torrent session before testing? No. Let's post a direct thread and complain about the speeds and the connection! Then admit 2 weeks later in the open forum that you were running a bit-torrent and no one told you that it might affect your connection when you run it at full bore. 2 AT&T techs told you and finally you believed 15 strangers that told you the same thing.. in an open forum.... Frankly I give up!

those are my sources... over the years...
--
If you have a topic in the direct forum please reply to it or a post of mine, I get a notification when you do this.
Koetting Ford, Granite City, illinois... YOU'RE FIRED!!
Turbocpe
Premium
join:2001-12-22
IA

Re: Not always ISPs fault

I could make a list like that myself and make up some numbers. That's not proof. Where's the 50%-80% figure in there?

David
I start new work on
Premium,VIP
join:2002-05-30
Granite City, IL
kudos:101
Reviews:
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3 edits

Re: Not always ISPs fault

multiply that by as least 250 techs in this center alone, your 50 to 80% becomes justified really quick. If you want to go by inside and outside techs, I think at last check there's as least 20,000 of us. Assuming as least one call a day gets lost to any of the above 10 scenarios that's 20,000 calls a day, by 365 days a year you get 7.3 million calls a year (or 42% of 17 mil customers) for just tier 2 and tier 3 techs. I didn't even include tier 1 techs, which might easily raise that another 8 to 10% easy (again assuming common problems solved by tier 1 such as loose connections, power cycling modems, and the simple resolutions).

There's my numbers.

Here's another prime example of end user problems that they want to lay blame on the ISP. Again #10 in my list easily comes into play.

»[Xtreme] I Hereby Accuse AT&T Bellsouth of Throttlling Speed

Anyone in a helpdesk/IT support type of function would easily see 50-80% easy. Anyone not or has never served that role won't understand and of course "Blame the ISP".

--
If you have a topic in the direct forum please reply to it or a post of mine, I get a notification when you do this.
Koetting Ford, Granite City, illinois... YOU'RE FIRED!!
Turbocpe
Premium
join:2001-12-22
IA

2 edits

Re: Not always ISPs fault

Oh. You work for an ISP. Makes sense.

You know the model is built on oversubscription and that bandwidth usage is not declining, but is instead increasing. Yeah, sure, 50%-80% of the problems are user-inflected issues/ Let's just all buy that figure that was pulled out of the ass. No one has provided a list of actual figures, just excuses.

You provide a list of reasons why customers can see slow speeds, due to non-ISP issues, but that doesn't tell us anything about percentage.

I've been here a bit longer than you, and I've gone through more than a few times of overcapacity issues from either DSL or cable. And so has many on this website. Of course this website doesn't represent the majority, but given we know that the model is built on oversubscription and the race ISPs have of offering the fastest speeds, at some of the time, overutilization can, and frequently does, happen.

said by David:

multiply that by as least 250 techs in this center alone, your 50 to 80% becomes justified really quick. If you want to go by inside and outside techs, I think at last check there's as least 20,000 of us. Assuming as least one call a day gets lost to any of the above 10 scenarios that's 20,000 calls a day, by 365 days a year you get 7.3 million calls a year (or 42% of 17 mil customers) for just tier 2 and tier 3 techs. I didn't even include tier 1 techs, which might easily raise that another 8 to 10% easy (again assuming common problems solved by tier 1 such as loose connections, power cycling modems, and the simple resolutions).

There's my numbers.

Here's another prime example of end user problems that they want to lay blame on the ISP. Again #10 in my list easily comes into play.

»[Xtreme] I Hereby Accuse AT&T Bellsouth of Throttlling Speed

Anyone in a helpdesk/IT support type of function would easily see 50-80% easy. Anyone not or has never served that role won't understand and of course "Blame the ISP".


Bend me over

@covad.net
You have a point in that that performance is linked to the quality of the infrastructure at client level. That I can swallow. Its the cases where you have been provisioned at 8 MB/768 on a DSL line by the SALES team,and you get less than 1.2/300 max during non-peaked hours and you are running a home run directly from the NID to your modem. Support says with a straight face that they can't and won't provide anywhere near the speeds sales says to expect yet tell you in the same breath that you STILL have to pay the top tier pricing because that is what they charge you even if they can't provide it.
I have a quad-core AMD 940 with 4 GB memory and running Windows 7 professional and believe me I have NEVER gotten anywhere near the up to speeds that were presented to me . The ISPs for the most part are flat out lying to their customers on what they will actually see and will continue to pick our wallets while the FCC kisses their collective butts. The FCC knows where the money is coming from. The American consumer, if they want internet services ha one of two options pay more and more for less and less or no service. No US or local gov't agency is going to do crap to change that de- reality.

battleop

join:2005-09-28
00000
I work several trouble tickets a week where the customer claims they are not getting what they are paying for. It's rare that I find that they really are not getting what they are paying for. Most of the time the customer is complaining based on what some damn speed test told them. I won't accept any speed test as proof of a slow speed. It has to be a real transfer over a few minutes from an FTP server, Usenet, or they can connect to a server I have that is offnet running Jperf. 99% of the time it's an unsecured access point, an employee running a bittorrent client, or someone is watching movies on the clock.

bend me over

@covad.net

Re: Not always ISPs fault

Yes sustained throughput is a great measure of the ability to deliver the service. How do you explain the ISP "No tech support" sending you to a "Speed test" site to validate your complaint? So you think that paying for an 8.0/768 line and getting 1.2/300 is getting what you pay for ? I always hear that line Its NEVER the ISP's fault it ALWAYS the dumb-a$$ customer. If the service provider would be upfront and tell it like it is; that you're not going to get more than 75-80% of your provisioned speed even under ideal circumstance. Things would be different and the public wouldn't be ragging on them. No, they bury the real story under disclaimers written in a font so small that many have a hard time reading it or not even broaching the subject. The ISP position is we'll give you what we feel like giving you when we feel like it. I want to make it clear that its typically not the front line people that make these decisions, they're the one's that have to deliver the owner/mgm'ts directives.

David
I start new work on
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Granite City, IL
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well to an extent you are correct, but to think it's 50% of all problems out there... sorry... I wouldn't buy that for $1.00 no matter how hard you tried to sell it. Now if you said 5-15% of the time for that $1.00 that I could buy.

So far for this year I have had only one over-utilized issue hit me. Last year I only tracked 5 total for the whole year.

It's getting even less by year as well, especially with Uverse and IP DSLAMS for ADSL2/2+ get introduced.
--
If you have a topic in the direct forum please reply to it or a post of mine, I get a notification when you do this.
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WebbyIL
Premium
join:2002-12-22
Athens, IL
Here's proof that while ATT oversells as we all know they do, you can with a clean line sustain the bandwidth they sell you

This is a 6/768 DSL that is continuosly maxed out at 5.2 plus overhead daily

Rob
In Deo speramus.
Premium
join:2001-08-25
Kendall, FL
kudos:2

To Do List..

Instead of adding more issues to their "to do" list, why doesn't the FCC start actually completing some of their previous tasks?

CylonRed
Premium,MVM
join:2000-07-06
Bloom County

I would like to know how they would take

distance into account for DSL users? Would they break out the average speeds by distance - I doubt it and they would likely list what those who were within 5,000 ft of the CO. For any ISP that has a lot of subscribers at farther distances - their average numbers will be poorer if they do not break them out.
--
Brian

"It drops into your stomach like a Abrams's tank.... driven by Rosanne Barr..." A. Bourdain

Rob
In Deo speramus.
Premium
join:2001-08-25
Kendall, FL
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Comcast

Re: I would like to know how they would take

said by CylonRed:

distance into account for DSL users? Would they break out the average speeds by distance - I doubt it and they would likely list what those who were within 5,000 ft of the CO. For any ISP that has a lot of subscribers at farther distances - their average numbers will be poorer if they do not break them out.
They could list the "up to" speeds and underneath list the guarantee speeds. I believe DSL providers guarantee a speed of some sorts (very low #).
--
CheckSite.us | YourIP.us | Reverseip.us

corkypv

@airband.net

I run a small ISP and...

I would welcome a better metric. As a business owner, I hate that the market does not reward me for trying to keep average speeds up, when competitors who don't bother look just as good as me on paper. But right now it would just make me look worse than companies I'm actually better than if I published average speed.

The thing about the government that is scary though is their metric might be flawed in some way that distorts things in some other bad way. It becomes political and then it becomes irrational, kid of like net neutrality.

fireflier
Coffee. . .Need Coffee
Premium
join:2001-05-25
Limbo

Better?

Karl, don't you mean: "especially during peak usage times from 7 up to 10."

RARPSL

join:1999-12-08
Suffern, NY

Re: Better?

said by fireflier:

Karl, don't you mean: "especially during peak usage times from 7 up to 10."
I think he means 7PM to 10PM. The 7 to 10 is a reference to "Prime Usage Times" thus making it a reference to a time period.

Anonymous
Premium
join:2004-06-01
IA
kudos:2

Meh...

I have absolutely no problems with' up to' advertising. The speed will vary. I have a felling cable cos will simply advertise service as a lower tier but charge the same. Or they can just call it 'broadband' service, make a single tier for everyone and charge the max rate.

That works too.

If people bitch now imagine paying $50/mo for a 'fuzzy tier' with no defined speeds at all where you can't even call in for slow speed issues.
--
I speak for myself, not my employer.
jakkwb

join:2009-04-27
USA

b/w overselling

Come on folks. ISPs - especially small ones (like me) HAVE TO oversell to even get close to making an extra buck.

I plainly list "up to" speeds, and tell folks you will not get maximum speeds during peak hours.

Until my upstream b/w gets cheaper, that is the way it will be.