Whenever we hear about the government trying to regulate internet providers, the right gets in a frenzy. They start screaming about “government takeover” and “interfering in private business”. Perfect examples of this can be seen in Rand Paul speeches.
Now a new report shows that internet providers routinely lie about the speeds you get from them, and in most cases they inflate the speeds by about 50%:
After crunching the data, FCC wonks have concluded that ISPs advertised an average (mean) “up to” download speed of 6.7Mbps in 2009. That’s not what broadband users got, though.
“However, FCC analysis shows that the median actual speed consumers experienced in the first half of 2009 was roughly 3 Mbps, while the average (mean) actual speed was approximately 4 Mbps,” says the report. “Therefore actual download speeds experienced by US consumers appear to lag advertised speeds by roughly 50 percent.”
Internet speed isn’t something you can test before you buy. You won’t know your actual speed until you have signed up and have the equipment installed. After that you can actually test your speed and find out the disappointment, but at that point it’s usually too late. You are now stuck in a contract for a year and face huge fees if you cancel.
In the National Broadband Plan, the FCC has started outlining details on how to fix this crime against consumers. One of the recommendations is a labeling requirement, similar to those we have on food, appliances and cars.
That would be a great first start, but I would also like to see tougher regulations go in. The FCC should offer a government run speed testing website, similar to SpeedTest. If your internet speed stays below the advertised threshold by more than 10% over a period of X days, then your internet provider must pro-rate your bill that month.
But with the fears of Republicans taking over Congress growing, the implementation of this plan faces bigger hurdles. We know that Republicans absolutely hate any government regulating business in any form. Instead they believe that it is the right of big business to lie, steal and cheat consumers out of money. That is one of the pillars of the Republican Party in this country, and if you enjoy being screwed out of money and not getting what is advertised to you, well go out and vote Republican this fall. If you believe in fairness and getting what you paid for, then vote for the Democrats and maybe this plan by the FCC can become a reality.