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FCC: You're Not Getting The Broadband You Pay For
Again insists users only see 50% of advertised speed
by Karl Bode 05:20PM Tuesday Aug 17 2010
Ars Technica directs our attention to a new FCC report (pdf) that's just chock full of broadband stats. Among them, the report concludes that users are getting about half of the speed advertised, thanks to that nifty "up to" marketing lingo used by most ISPs. According to the FCC, ISPs advertised a mean "up to" download speed of 6.7Mbps in 2009, while consumers actually saw a median speed of 3 Mbps and a mean speed of 4 Mbps:
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In other words, consumers need a better, publicly agreed upon measure of broadband performance that reflects the network operation and end-user experience. The NBP’s Recommendation 4.3, calling on the FCC to work with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, consumer groups, industry and other technical experts to develop broadband measurement standards is designed to address this issue.
The FCC's solution is a more comprehensive nutrion-label esque advertising standard that gives consumers a more well-rounded idea of what they can expect from their connection. This label would include actual average connection performance estimates for peak and off peak speeds, "tested against a given set of standard protocols and applications."

This isn't the first time the FCC has said they would like to see more accurate speed advertising, nor is it the first time the FCC has used that 50% metric (they mentioned this before on page 26 of a recent slideshow here). While there's certainly a very real gap between real-world broadband and marketed broadband, most people in the industry don't think it's that big -- and there has been some complaints (primarily from the cable industry) that the FCC used not-entirely-comprehensive Akamai and comScore data to get that total.

As such, the FCC has started more comprehensive, in-home testing with the help of UK firm SamKnows, involving the use of custom-firmware embedded Cisco routers that will gather more comprehensive data to fuel FCC decisions.

55 comments .. click to read

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Mr Matt

Eustis, FL
·Embarq Now Centu..

2 recommendations

Study confirms Broadband ISP's dishonest.

This study confirms that the Broadband ISP's act as though they are above the law. It appears that all communication services providers have been given cart blanch by lack of regulation to misrepresent to the customer what the customer is actual receiving. The communication service provider blotter demonstrates a flagrant disregard for honesty and fair play. Since the inception of broadband service the ISP's have consistently misrepresented the speed and capacity of the service that the customer is subscribing to.

Some of the communication service providers deceitful actions include:
1) Misrepresenting the actual price of the service by adding below the total line, charges and fees, that are not disclosed when the price of the service is quoted. Many service providers claim that certain fees and charges are government mandated when in fact they are not. By doing so they are failing to disclose the true price of the service to the customer before the customer signs a contract.
2) Making extravagant claims as to the nature of the services that they offer and cannot actually meet.
3) Requiring customers to commit to long term service contracts with significant early termination fees that allow service providers to hold hostage customers that want to take their business elsewhere because of deteriorating service quality.
4) Straight out lying to customers about the nature of the service that they are subscribing to.
5) Requiring customers to sign unilateral contracts that allow the service provider to make any changes to the terms and conditions of the contract at any time.
6) In order to resolve a depute the service providers require the customer to use the service providers binding arbitration that are clearly biased in favor of the service provider. The purpose of this clause in the contract is to act as a barrier to prevent the customer to obtain legal recourse through the justice system.

The current communications business is a mirror, that reflects the corrupt nature of our lawmakers and their willingness to accept payola from the service providers that they are suppose to be regulating.

Gaithersburg, MD

3 recommendations


I have no problem with this if the ISPs can accept that I only want to pay "up to" my stated monthly bill.

How about this? Since ISPs are all about billing on a per use basis, they should also be required to provide accurate meters that measure bandwidth usage as well as speed. If they offer up to 10 Mbps at $40 a month and at the end of that month the meter says they only hit an average speed of 5 Mbps, then I only have to pay $20. I'm sure all of the ISPs will love this plan!


Sugar Land, TX

2 recommendations

reply to Camelot One

Re: I have to agree

said by Camelot One:

"Up to" is a load of crap, and when they market speeds that flat out aren't possible due to overhead, its bordering on false advertising.
It is not bordering, IT IS false advertising.