FCC Comment Fair Advertised Speeds

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My comments to the FCC on 8/22/2009 Docket 09-51 National Broadband Plan Notice of Inquiry

Confirm #2009822932304

It is extremely important that the Commission establish a procedure for conducting real world speed tests out to the public internet. These tests would be important not just for the National Broadband Plan, but for ensuring that companies are offering services that meet their advertising. The Commission must require that actual speeds have some relation to advertised speeds. It is imperative that companies be held accountable for providing promised speeds.

I know well that rated speeds may not be actually achievable; even in other industries, such as a car’s maximum speed. However, there do not seem to be mechanisms in place to require companies to attempt to provide advertised speeds or to even make sure that such speeds are even achievable.

I propose that companies be required to meet minimum standards in relation to their advertised speeds during a weeklong test. The test would measure bandwidth speeds by download and uploading a file at least once every hour. (For example, speedtest.net) Pending further study, companies should be required to provide at least 80% of the rated speed 80% of the time. In addition, rated speeds much be achieved at least once a day during the week long test. The FCC should establish a speed test server on the internet backbone, or require internet backbone companies to provide such a service. The machine should not be on the broadband providers’ network, but on the edge of the internet backbone. ISPs should not be penalized for the slowness of the internet backbone, only for their network. When establishing service to a new area, companies shall test the connection for at least a week to make sure that it meets the above requirements.

In addition, if customers feel that the above requirements are not being met, a customer may perform the same test on their equipment. Companies have the right to verify the test using their own equipment. If the results do not meet minimum requirements, companies must rectify the situation within 15 days or provide consumers with a refund of service during the affected time prorated to the percent of speed actually achieved.

These measures are designed to compel ISPs to advertise real world speeds and to insure that such speeds are actually achieved by end users connecting to the internet. Actual speeds for downloading content from the public internet may vary due to the server or internet backbone congestion.