‘It’s Hard to Trust the Numbers.’ Internet Providers Inflate Official Speed Results
The Federal Communications Commission’s nearly decade-old program, Measuring Broadband America, is the US government’s gauge of whether home internet-service providers are holding up their end of the bargain when they promise users certain speeds. Companies wield tremendous influence over the study and often employ tactics to boost their scores, according to interviews with more than two dozen industry executives, engineers and government officials. As a result, the FCC’s report likely gives consumers an unreliable measure of internet providers’ performances by overstating speeds. “It’s hard to trust the numbers when you know” of efforts to massage the results, said veteran cable and telecom consultant Mark Lubow. Internet experts and former FCC officials said the setup gives the internet companies enormous leverage. “How can you go to the party who controls the information and say, ‘please give me information that may implicate you?’ ” said Tom Wheeler, a former FCC chairman who stepped down in Jan 2017. Internet experts said the FCC’s entire testing approach needs to be rethought to be more useful for consumers. The current test measures how much capacity internet providers supply to a household, in a vacuum, but doesn’t monitor the internet performance that users actually experience while streaming, gaming or surfing the Web, which can be affected by overtaxed neighborhood networks, Wi-Fi interference or traffic jams deep in the guts of the internet.
‘It’s Hard to Trust the Numbers.’ Internet Providers Inflate Official Speed Results AT&T drops out of FCC speed-test program so it can hide bad results (ars technica)