Wednesday, June 02, 2010

FCC: consumers are unaware of their broadband speeds

Cecilia Kang has an important but brief blog posting in her “Post Tech” column, printed Wednesday June 2 on p A10 (Economy & Business) of the Washington Post, “4 out of 5: Broadband users don’t know their connection speed,” link here.

The Federal Communications Commission performed a study or survey that determined that the actual speeds provided by service providers where sometimes less than half of what was advertised.

The survey was conducted by ABT Associates (link) and SRBI (link).

FCC wants to have a survey where consumers install hardware in their homes that will tell them how well their connections work.

The survey seemed to focus on wireless. In my experience, wired broadband (through cable) is slightly faster generally than Verizon wireless connections through a Blackberry. However, sometimes in my experience Comcast has brief network problems where some sites will not connect for a while whereas they will contact through Verizon (this has happened particularly with AOL mail).

On the other hand, I’ve found that with wired land broadband (Comcast in my case, but Cox and Time Warner are probably similar), the quality of splitter connections exposed to the elements outside can affect speed. Generally, if (home) outdoor splitters are replaced after two or three years, speed and stability (absence of slowdowns and stalls) seem to improve. That was particularly true at the February snowstorms on the East Coast that covered outdoor splitters in my case. Freezing and melting seems to cause the connection stability to degrade. I haven’t seen this commented on with broadband discussions.

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