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Measuring Broadband America Report Released 160

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the cablevision-users-weeping dept.
AzTechGuy writes "Early this year I received one of the 'Whitebox' routers to test the speed of my ISP and compare it to the advertised speed. Today I received an email that they have released the first report with another report due at the end of the year. My results do not correspond with the results reflected in the report." It appears that most ISPs are within 80% of their advertised speeds during peak hours with Verizon leading the pack mostly exceeding their advertised rates. Cablevision users, on the other hand, shouldn't expect more than half of the promised bandwidth (youch!).
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Measuring Broadband America Report Released

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  • Errr what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OverlordQ (264228) on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @03:01PM (#36963228) Journal

    My results do not correspond with the results reflected in the report.

    You mean a single data point doesn't follow the trend? Throw the study out! It must be crap!

    • by Nkwe (604125)

      My results do not correspond with the results reflected in the report.

      I have one of the monitoring boxes at home and my results (or at least my perceived experience) do match the results in the report. I am a Verizon (now Frontier) fiber customer. The service rocks.

    • I don't think AzTechGuy was suggesting that. It would be pretty stupid to submit an article only to say it wasn't true.

      "Read this report. Did you read it? IT'S CRAP! DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME READING IT!"

      On the other hand, he -could- have submitted it, knowing full well that slashdotters never read TFA. Maybe he figured if he didn't submit it, we might read it...
  • False advertising (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @03:05PM (#36963268) Homepage
    I would say that any company that was listed that never reached an average of their advertised speed should be taken to task for false advertising. Maybe dragged in front of the FTC, and possible legal action since it looks like most providers are never able to deliver their advertised speed.
    • by OverlordQ (264228)

      They should make ISPs advertise minimum speeds, and not 'up to' speeds. So if you buy a 5mbit plan, you will definately get 5mbit at all times, if not more.

      Of course I highly doubt many ISPs have the capacity to actually promise anything above dialup speeds at any given time.

      • by KiloByte (825081)

        Actually, it should be cap/time. If you have a "100mbit" connection with a 5GB monthly cap, a listed speed above 1.9kbps is false advertising.

        The 100mbit number might be listed as "burst speed", since it's what it is.

        • by drsmithy (35869)

          Actually, it should be cap/time. If you have a "100mbit" connection with a 5GB monthly cap, a listed speed above 1.9kbps is false advertising.

          Indeed. As are fuel consumption figures for cars with the throttle anything less than wide open.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Fuel consumption figures are theoretically intended to give an idea of performance under typical use. Bandwidth numbers are just lies.

        • by omnichad (1198475)

          Getting what's advertised AND getting more isn't false advertising.

      • by Duradin (1261418)

        Pay for a dedicated line and you'll get a dedicated line just don't expect it to be as cheap as the non-dedicated lines.

        • by nabsltd (1313397)

          Pay for a dedicated line and you'll get a dedicated line just don't expect it to be as cheap as the non-dedicated lines.

          Why not? FiOS is often cheaper than other services.

          Yes, technically FiOS is shared bandwidth, just like at some point any "dedicated line" becomes shared with other connections. But, from your house to Verizon's central network, you'll never share with enough other users to not get your full speed, even if FiOS gets 100% uptake in the areas in which it is available.

      • by kwark (512736)

        How can anyone guarantee a minimum speed? An ISP may be able to have such guarantees in their own network (where most stuff isn't), if they have full control over EVERYTHING.

        • available bandwidth, not available speed. In other words if the connection on the other end is slow then I can also download other things simultaneously and use my total available bandwidth.
        • by Ichijo (607641)

          How can anyone guarantee a minimum speed?

          By varying the price [slashdot.org].

      • by vijayiyer (728590)

        All of these sorts of terms are available as business connections. You will note that they cost considerably more, because their oversubscribe rate is lower.

        • I've read reports of some ISPs not supplying business connections to customers on residentially zoned land. I've read other reports of ISP sales reps not knowing what to do when a customer wants TV service from the ISP's home division and Internet service from the ISP's business division.
      • by drsmithy (35869)

        They should make ISPs advertise minimum speeds, and not 'up to' speeds. So if you buy a 5mbit plan, you will definately get 5mbit at all times, if not more.

        What if the limiting factor is something outside of the ISP's control ? Like, say, distance from the exchange or quality of internal wiring for ADSL ?

      • by Ichijo (607641)

        Of course I highly doubt many ISPs have the capacity to actually promise anything above dialup speeds at any given time.

        Oh, they have the capacity. They just don't have the right pricing model. If there's a shortage of available bandwidth to your house, it's because the price is set below the going rate determined by supply and demand [wikipedia.org].

        So all they have to do is raise the price during periods of high demand, until demand falls enough so that whoever's using the bandwidth is getting their full allotment.

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      The words 'up to' and 'average' do not mean the same thing.

      • And most advertising agencies would be in a world of trouble if there were legal consequences for using "Up to" in deceptive contexts like that. "geShitty car insurance-co could save you 15% or more on car insurance" [xkcd.com] and whatnot.

        I... I'm not really sure why I said it like it was a BAD thing. I'm e-mailing my congressman right now. No more using the words "up to" in ads, only real averages. Or else they behead you.
      • Agreed, however if I am paying for a 12 mbps package and the ISP also has a 7 mbps package and I consistently have a 2 mbps download, never going over 7, then I am going to complain that I am not receiving what I pay for. Drop me down the the less expensive plan and I will settle for 2mbps This is the case in my situation and I do understand that everyone will have different results. I could have a neighbor that pays for the highest package and chews up all the bandwidth in the neighborhood, though unlik
      • by houghi (78078)

        The words 'up to' and 'average' do not mean the same thing.

        They could be used together in advertising: You get up to the average in speed with ISP-R-us.

    • by rwa2 (4391) *

      Pretty much... from the FCC pdf, all of the cable ISPs pretty much delivered ~22mbps. But their marketing branded them as "20" , "25", or "30".

      Interesting that the FiOS consistently delivered 110% - 115% of their marketed value. And that practically no one mentions latency, which is probably a bigger selling point, esp. with mobile networks.

    • I would say that any company that was listed that never reached an average of their advertised speed should be taken to task for false advertising. Maybe dragged in front of the FTC, and possible legal action since it looks like most providers are never able to deliver their advertised speed.

      *sigh* The knee-jerk "call the lawyers!" response never fails to find a taker, does it? And precisely what "false advertising" could you charge them with? Look carefully at the advertising *and* the actual end-user contract. You'll find no promises of any bandwidth anywhere. Quite the contrary, you'll find lots of "speeds up to XX" and "actual speeds may vary" language liberally peppered everywhere. This means precisely what it says: you *may* get speeds "up to" the advertised amount, but you may not.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        The problem is that it's dishonest and misleading if you never receive the stated bandwidth. If they're going to play that game, then why not just have everybody advertising as having up to 100 kagillion gigabits per second? The reason is that up to requires that at some point during the month you're receiving that connection or have a reasonable chance of receiving it. If they can't provide the connection of that speed then they're not really providing a connection that's up to that speed.

        On a side note, I

      • by AK Marc (707885)

        There is no law against selling something to someone who is too stupid to take the time to understand what they're buying, nor should there be.

        Sure there is. If you state things like "this tonic may cure cancer *note, there is no evidence it does, and no proof it doesn't" then you likely broke the law. If you say "this can can get 1000 mpg if you leave it in idle in neutral while coasting down Pikes Peak (actual measured results)" then you are possibly breaking the law. Factually true statements given to mislead are lies. Lies to separate others from money is fraud. Factual statements given with the sole purpose of misleading don't make a lie

  • Cablevision users, on the other hand, shouldn't expect more than half of the promised bandwidth (youch!).

    "Promised bandwidth"? I'm sure if you read the fine print on *any* residential broadband SLA, you'll find the ISP "promises" exactly *zero* bandwidth. Every contract I've ever seen says they promise speeds "up to" a certain amount but there is no lower limit to what they actually deliver. This is akin to the good old days of zero CIR frame relay where the provider had the right to discard up to 100% of your packets if network congestion became an issue. In return, you got rock-bottom pricing. I never saw

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I agree that expecting 100% of advertised speeds--since the advertisement claims "up to"--is entirely unrealistic. However, there certainly has to be a threshold where a user could claim false advertisement. IMHO, getting 70% of the speed is barely acceptable, 50% is downright atrocious.
    • by MBCook (132727)

      They protect bandwidth. AT&T protects bandwidth on U-Verse for phone calls and television signals. FIOS protects space on the line for the same reasons. I wouldn't be surprised if Comcast/TWC do it for their phone service.

      "You are getting a 22 mbps line, we're just using 21.937 mbps for our stuff" - Your ISP

      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        AT&T protects bandwidth on U-Verse for phone calls and television signals. FIOS protects space on the line for the same reasons.

        On FiOS, the TV and phone are carried on an entirely different part of the laser spectrum from the Internet, so if that's what you mean by "protects space", then you are correct.

        But, it is physically impossible for Internet bandwidth to be reduced because of TV or phone use on FiOS, although they do "share" the overall fiber bandwidth. Since the total fiber bandwidth is on the order of gigabits per second, it's not like you'll ever be close to running out, even with 100Mbps Internet and watching 10 TV chan

    • How about being able to actually get it at all, or even get close to it. Some of the companies (AT&T, Frontier, and Qwest) never came close (stuck around 80% the whole time). Now for a car analogy, this is like saying my 88 Ford Bronco II with a worn out engine is capable of speeds of up to 100 MPH. If I told you that when selling it to you wouldn't you want your money back since there is no way in hell it could actually go that fast (I am lucky if I can reach 70 in it and have gotten it up to 85 or so
    • by antdude (79039)

      If it is zero, then you have a problem. During the downtimes, I check with my ISPs for the problems. Usually, they say it is known issues and give me credits for them.

    • by AK Marc (707885)
      What the contract promises and what the advertising indicates should be the expected experience don't agree, thus all the advertising is fraud an should be prosecuted criminally, getting the corporate charter revoked and the CEOs of the ISP and advertising agency in jail for 10+ years each.
    • There is no question that cable companies oversell their capacity. However it's been my experience that a lot of users don't know what speed they are getting and because anything above 1mbps is fine for browsing and email they aren't sensitive to it. These users don't tweek their systems, nor do they call the cable company when they have dropped packets or other issues that could be addressed with a simple service call.

  • Most consumer Internet does not promise any guaranteed rate or speed, only that it can peak "up to" a certain speed.
    If you want guaranteed performance, you will probably have to pay for a business line, which is far more expensive.

    • Business lines are far more expensive, but worth it if you actually want to get what is advertised. The only issue I have is the up to part of their advertising as I would expect that I should at some point actually see the type of performance they are advertising but in looking at the charts and graphs it looks like a number of don't even get close.
      • by nabsltd (1313397)

        Business lines are far more expensive, but worth it if you actually want to get what is advertised.

        Verizon generally only charges about 15-20% more for business service, but for the highest speeds it's even less (about 7%).

  • You know FCC could you please add hyperlinks to your PDF so I can easily go to the desired section?

  • TFA - Verizon: Sure, you can burst above our advertised rates, but enjoy that bandwidth cap!
    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @03:16PM (#36963438)

      Verizon FIOS has no caps.

      Only Verizon Wireless has caps.

      • Nor does their DSL.

      • They have no set cap written in stone. But if you use enough bandwidth in an area where your usage stands out, they come after you just like the others. If you haven't been called by them, it just means you aren't using enough bandwidth to merit the time to get someone to call. I know people who were downloading just over 250 Gigs a month and got calls about "excessive usage", while others have downloaded almost double that and haven't been bothered. They generate reports of "excessive bandwidth usage" base
  • good faith? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nyall (646782) on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @03:10PM (#36963344) Homepage

    I wonder how long this will last until a class action suit.

    I think the ISPs are hiding behind the variables like distance to the tap and peak hours to not make a good faith effort to provide what they are advertising.

    In many cases people pay for 3mbs but get 2mbs, then upgrade to the 6mbs plan and get 4mbs, which demonstrates the ISPs capability to have delivered the full 3mbs in the first place.

    • In many cases people pay for 3mbs but get 2mbs, then upgrade to the 6mbs plan and get 4mbs, which demonstrates the ISPs capability to have delivered the full 3mbs in the first place.

      Then perhaps what customers are paying for is a slice of spectrum x MHz wide, and the Mbps per MHz ratio depends on line conditions such that people living farther away will need to pay more for the same last mile service because it costs the telco more to provide the same last mile service.

  • FIOS is dramatically outperforming even its impressive advertised speeds. This means that teenagers can infringe content and be lured by online predators that much faster! Quick, parents, sue Verizon for false advertising! You are getting too much (dangerous) bandwidth!

  • by MoldySpore (1280634) on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @03:12PM (#36963376)

    Cablevision users, on the other hand, shouldn't expect more than half of the promised bandwidth

    Hmm...Perhaps you may not hit the max advertised rate on Cablevision's Optimum service, but I can tell from experience that it is much faster than most other services. I have Time Warner Road Runner Turbo and I am paying $66/mo for it in Western NY. I MAX out @ 1.7 MBps sustained, with bursts up to 2.0 MBps (Yes, Mega BYTES, bot bits). But when I visit my friends who live in Eastern NY where Time Warner doesn't have a death gripping monopoly on the broadband market, they are paying far less per month for speeds that always exceed 2.0 MBps on STANDARD level service. Optimum Online Boost, which some do have, get in excess of 3.0 MBps.

    So in my personal experience, Optimum wipes to floor with other ISPs. Especially because they have no enforced cap like Comcast or FIOS, and are faster than Time Warner and Cox based connections. Benchmarks and speed tests are fine, but my real world use will decide what ISP I look for when it comes time to buy a house somewhere else. I don't care if they only give me 1/10th of their advertised speed. As long as that speed is still faster than the competition for an equal or lesser price, which so far they have been delivering in my experience.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Where in WNY are you?
      I live in West Seneca and have 25/25 FIOS. It fucking rocks. FIOS does not have a cap either.

    • by Targon (17348)

      Out here in Eastern Suffolk County(Eastern Long island, NY), customers get between 7 and 13 megabit/second out of the 15 megabit/second cap for regular Optimum Online. Customers that see less than that are having problems, and it is normally a routine service call to solve the problem. These speeds are based on speedtest.net.

      In general, unless there is an excess of capacity(meaning few customers), people should not expect to see 100 percent of the advertised speed. Initial service offerings will ha

      • I have Cablevison Boost Plus which gives me 52/8 Mbps. It is quite amazing actually.

        You do have to keep an eye on Cablevision though. They don't spend a lot of time handholding customers so I believe that many are have various issues that prevent them from getting full speed on the service. Run speedtests and visit Broadband Reports support forums to find out how to get the most of your service.

    • Wow, if that's all you're getting than why not downgrade to Road Runner basic? Couldn't be worse, right? Is your performance typical of others in the area?

      I'm in a part of NC where the DSL options are awful (like MAX of 1mbps down 768kbps up), no Uverse, no FIOS, and Time Warner is the only show in town. I get solid ~9.5+mbps down/.9mbps up on a 10/1 connection (the cheapest RR tier).

      • I think you are talking Mbps (Megabits), my figures are real-world figures, listed in MBps (Megabytes). 1 megabit = 0.125 megabytes
        • Ah, usually I see megabytes per second abbreviated mb/s rather than MBps, thus the confusion

          I did miss that. So let me get this straight--you're complaining about ~16mbps connection? That's pretty fast...admittedly $66/month isn't that great, but pretty good compared to a lot of the country. I'm paying $35 for 10/1.

          • Not complaining. Just comparing. @ 1.7 MB/s that is about 13.6 Megabits/s. Also remember I am paying for a TURBO connection. Meaning I am paying extra for more speed. Standard Time Warner connections max out around 1.0 MB/s (8 Megabits/s) but still cost around $50/month. For less money than TW, you can get a STANDARD tier connection on Optimum and exceed 2.0 MB/s down stream, in my experience, and for still less than my Turbo connection, Optimum Boost gets you over 3.0 MB/s (24 Megabits/s), usually bursting
            • Can you get Earthlink in your area? It runs on the same modem, same lines, etc. You even pay the bills to TWC still. By switching back and forth between Earthlink and TWC every 6 months to 1 year I have not had to pay more than $40 for cable in a long time. I am in an area with virtually no broadband competition either.

              • I thought about doing that but to be honest it was too much trouble. Time Warner is the only cable broadband in the area because they own all the telephone poles and cable in the whole county. And they aren't willing to let other companies come in and rent space on their poles because they'd rather have a monopoly on the market. Probably make more $ that way.
    • So in my personal experience, Optimum wipes to floor with other ISPs. Especially because they have no enforced cap like Comcast or FIOS

      The what now? FiOS doesn't have a cap. Either that or it's insanely high (believe me, I'd know). I got fed up with Optimum Offline silently capping in the first place, which is why I switched.
  • by mc_barron (546164) on Tuesday August 02, 2011 @03:13PM (#36963388) Homepage

    If these speeds are averages over several days, and we are looking at 24 hours of data, then why in the world does the right side of the graph not mirror the left side of the graph? Surely the speeds don't suddenly change at midnight?

    • Does it say it's an average in the article? I was looking for details that might answer your question. Maybe they're averaging many users on the same day, or maybe they aren't averaging consecutive days.
    • People with a dynamic IP address usually have it refresh at around midnight (unless you have it set so that your modem resets at a specific time). Until everyone's computers realise the new IP, it will interrupt downloads. Those on a static IP or who's IP doesn't refresh around midnight, will see increased speeds as contention decreases.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    For most countries with good broadband 100MBS up AND down is fairly standard.

    • by Targon (17348)

      And in those countries, the government subsidizes the network. Here in the USA, the government is all about helping big oil and energy companies, and politicians are generally anti-technology, except for military technology.

    • I HATE apples to oranges comparisons. Comparing the US to an unnamed —presumably small and high density — country is as silly as comparing a LAN connection to the one you get from your ISP and suggesting that the ISP is slow. Of course it is. They'd have to spend exponentially more to have it equal to your LAN, but they also have a lot more to overcome.

      When you have population densities that are significantly higher, you make it significantly easier to provide higher quality service to more peop

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Over the past year or so, I've noticed that my Steam downloads - which would usually cap out at 1.2MB/sec - have been topping out at around 330K/sec after I get home from work. Other people I know have had problems with video streams constantly buffering when watching live video. I've considered upgrading to their "Boost" service, to see if that would help, but if this graph is any indication, it won't matter one bit. I priced out Fios a few years ago, when they first rolled out in my area, but I think it m

    • by Targon (17348)

      Go to speedtest.net and test your line, if you see less than 7Mbps down, call customer service to get your problem fixed. Any company WILL have problems with areas or individual customers, but if people don't call to report the problems, how is Cablevision supposed to know and test to find the source of the problem?

  • This system would be easy for any ISP to game. QOS routing is already in place in all ISP networks. All any one of them would need is an example whitebox (eg. one of their employees or their friends), and they could ensure all packets destined for the target host are treated with the highest priority. All we can tell from that graph is CableVision doesn't do that...

    Remeber too that ISPs route packets differently depending on the destination provider among other things. Anyone remember the debacle abo
  • I was also a participant in the study. My DSL service before the study was very poor. About a week and half after I received and connected my 'Whitebox' router my service got significantly better. You can see the performance was better (fewer dropped packets and higher substained bandwidth) in the personal graphs I received from Samknows after the first week and half. I have a feeling the my provider detected I was in the survey and made sure my traffic was prioritized.

  • The graphs don't give enough information to evaluate the claims. To tell you the average speed isn't useful without giving some indication of the data spread. For example if one customer gets 300% over advertised but 3 customers get 33% of advertised then service averages out to 100% of advertised.

    .
    A box-whisker graph [wikipedia.org] would give a much better sense of how customers are faring.

    Moreover, the tests weren't run blind. The ISPs provided data to the people running the study to help them disambiguate whether bot

  • I have to admit since I finally bit the bullet and went to their cable modem 20MB service, the thing virtually always test out at 31MB/s for looong periods of transfer, I have been quite happy. It's a little expensive, but it is fast, and (so far) consistently 30Mbps/5Mbps down and up - not just in short bursts (I was worried about that.)

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Around here Comcast is basically the same speed as Qwest is, the main difference is that they have that boosting technology that lets them borrow bandwidth from the loop when congestion is low.

      Unfortunately, neither company is particularly interested in doing anything about it and Qwest has flat out stated that they won't be upgrading capacity in several Seattle neighborhoods leaving them with a connection of 1.5mbps max or comcast.

      • Just out of curiosity, what is your max bandwidth? You on a 12 or a 20 or a 40? The reason that I ask is that 12s are adsl , while the 20/40 are vdsl. We are switching from comcast to qwest due to the outrageous price by comcast and their outages. In addition, I had to fight for vdsl rather than the adsl.
  • It sucks so bad... We now have the 18mbps (upgraded from 6 to 12, and now to 18) plan and I haven't gotten over 6mbps since upgrading. It is actually slower now than it was with the 6mbps plan. Usually during peak hours I'm seeing under 2mbps and can't even play games or watch youtube videos above 240p.

    I ran/submitted Uverse to this FCC test almost a year ago, it was much faster then and we actually got speeds as advertised. Me thinks the ISPs might have a way to game these metrics. I mean, its the FCC,
    • It sucks so bad... We now have the 18mbps (upgraded from 6 to 12, and now to 18) plan and I haven't gotten over 6mbps since upgrading. It is actually slower now than it was with the 6mbps plan.

      If you're paying more for less, you're their dream customer. Why don't you switch back?

      • by sdguero (1112795)
        I have a live in landlord that isn't tech savvy. Preaching to the choir dude...
        • Oh, bummer. Assuming you're sharing with other tenants, you've made sure they're not gumming up the works?

          • by sdguero (1112795)
            Nah just two of us and I'm the only techy. I keep an eye on our network... The pipe is slow. Uverse sucks!
  • My broadband comes from the town utility system. We reliably get speeds 90% faster than we pay for, at any time of day, or night. So-called 'LUSFiber' (for' Lafayette Utility System Fiber') is the best there is. Their cable offerings are also excellent and beat the opposition (mostly Cox) hands down. What is really cool is that the LUSFiber system stays up, even during a power outage, which none of the opposition does. As we live in an area that gets hurricanes, this is an important advantage. I wish everyo
    • Sadly LUS rolled out fiber just a few months after I left Lafayette. And the substation they picked for initial rollout was where my apartment had been. Ah well. So jealous now that I have to deal w/ Comcast up here... All I hear is good things from my friends/family that are using LUSFiber back home.

      Interesting that you say that it stays up in a power outage, as that was BellSouth and Cox's talking point about why the LUS system would be bad (Our systems run on copper, so they carry their own power, and st

  • by bored (40072)

    How long it took the ISP's to detect the boxes and set their throttle algorithms to ignore streams from them.

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