×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

ISPs Lie About Broadband "Up To" Speeds

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the lies-and-damned-lies dept.

Businesses 547

Haffner writes "Ars Technica has an article detailing the difference between ISP advertised 'up to x Mbps' speeds and the actual speeds, in addition to some possible solutions. They find that on average, the advertised speeds were 'up to 6.7 Mbps' while the real median was 3 Mbps and the mean was 4 Mbps. This implies that ISPs were falsely advertising by at least 50%."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

547 comments

ISP's want your money... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33283794)

News at 11

And I want their bandwidth... (4, Funny)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283820)

You'd think that'd be a mutually beneficial arrangement of the sort that would make Adam Smith proud...

But no, it seems they want to keep my money and their bandwidth, so fuck 'em.

Re:ISP's want your money... (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284242)

    It wouldn't be news, it would be a rerun. They should have shortened the title to "ISPs Lie", which directly relates to "Companies Lie".

On the subject of lying (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33283806)

I'd say they were lying by up to 100%

Sneaky, yes. Lies, not quite. (5, Informative)

Rary (566291) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283812)

They find that on average, the advertised speeds were 'up to 6.7 Mbps' while the real median was 3 Mbps and the mean was 4 Mbps. This implies that ISPs were falsely advertising by at least 50%.

"Up to" doesn't mean "median" or "mean". "Up to" means "up to", as in "maximum".

That being said, it is rather sneaky to advertise a product by focusing on a theoretical maximum that you may (or may not) experience on the rarest of occasions. It's kind of like selling a limited service as "unlimited". But no one would ever do that, right?

Re:Sneaky, yes. Lies, not quite. (4, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283952)

Do you think Doritos would be allowed to sell bags as "up to a pound" when they averaged 9oz and some had quite a bit less? The big problem is it's one way. When you are promised Xmbps, you get some number, Y, where Y<= X. I would be amazed if more than 1% of the broadband population got higher than their rated speed. If it was a real normal distribution, or when you called to sign up they told you "you can expect to get X most of the time".

But my parents have 12 or 15mbps cable internet. During normal hours (even early afternoon) it is almost never faster than about 8mbps, and that's with multiple downloads coming from what I assume to be a CDN, because most sites aren't anywhere near that. Over the last 5-6 years, the top speed you could reach on their cable line has dropped as more people have signed on, but the advertised speed (and the price) have both increased. They have a medium package since there is no point trying to get more on an oversubscribed line.

I, on the other hand, pay for 6mbps DSL, and get almost exactly 6. I like getting what I pay for, and if I could only get 3, I'd pay for that service level.

If your "up to" only applies to 5% of your customers, you're scamming them. If it was 30%, I think we'd all be a lot more forgiving.

Re:Sneaky, yes. Lies, not quite. (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284056)

Do you think Doritos would be allowed to sell bags as "up to a pound" when they averaged 9oz and some had quite a bit less? The big problem is it's one way. When you are promised Xmbps, you get some number, Y, where Y

If they say "up to" they can provide any speed between and including zero and the "up to" figure and still be correct.

I don't think anyone expects any industry to deliver more than promised, seems to be a lost cause.

This problem will not go away so easily when the average person isn't paying attention and even supposedly technically knowledgeable people do not understand the language enough to see the weaseling before they sign up. Then there's the problem where a /. submitter and editor do not understand basic statistical terms.

Re:Sneaky, yes. Lies, not quite. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33284100)

Unlike Doritos, ISPs typically have very little control over the local conditions that determine the actual speeds any given customer will be able to get.

Only 98% lies. (1)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284148)

If your "up to" only applies to 5% of your customers, you're scamming them.

Try 2% getting close to the advertised speed, and 98% getting a lot less. According to OFCOM - the UK regulator - only a small fraction get anything close to the advertised maximum (unless they're on fiber). For example, regarding ADSL2 which was 'up to 20Mbps':
"65% were getting less than 8Mbps, 32% between 8 and 14Mbps, with just 2% getting 14-20Mbps."
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/rorycellanjones/2010/07/ofcom_broadbands_broken_promis.html [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Sneaky, yes. Lies, not quite. (1)

masshuu (1260516) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284224)

My DSL is rated at 3mbps, ive hit 3.2-3.6mbps in the past. Don't normally hit that though. Mean speed is ~350KBps, with steam downloading at ~400MBps now(its almost 10PM)

When i had FIOS, i could usually max out my speed with a good large download(ubuntu torrent for example), but when i was on cable, i don't think i ever maxed it out, or came close.

-Irving, TX

Re:Sneaky, yes. Lies, not quite. (4, Interesting)

DeadPixels (1391907) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284334)

I actually like the parent's Doritos analogy - it's true when you think of it that way; there would be all sorts of uproar if physical goods were advertised and sold the way broadband is.
"Up to" a dozen bagels in your order, or "up to" two patties on your burger would never fly. And who would work for pay on an "up to" scale? I'm sure companies would be happy to pay someone "up to" four hundred dollars an hour.

Part of the problem, in my opinion, is the fact that a sizable portion of the population is not terribly computer-literate or technically savvy. They want "an Internet" or "a Google" or (my new favorite) "the Facebook" and don't really care much about how they get it.
The average end user, in my experience, has difficulty distinguishing between a slow computer and a slow connection. To many, they might as well be one and the same. I get asked for help all the time with people saying "my computer is slow" and it turns out they actually have connectivity problems. ISPs not only take advantage of that mentality, they count on it. I'm sure many of you have seen the commercials for those sites like "FinallyFast" or "MaxMySpeed" or whatever they're called, where they advertise a "free scan" to tell if you're "infected" or "experiencing registry errors", and by purchasing their product, you can avoid having to buy a new computer. That is basically the same demographic ISPs are targeting; the population that knows they want a computer and an internet connection but doesn't know much beyond that. I would honestly describe it as predatory.

I know I'll probably get modded down for not taking a more pro-capitalistic stance, but in my opinion this is a case where consumers are being taken advantage of - and there simply are no better options. It's very easy to say "vote with your dollar and don't buy their services", but an internet connection is critical for many people nowadays. I know several people who run businesses out of their homes using websites, VOIP lines, etc. For them, canceling their internet connection is just not an option. If there were an ISP that actually provided good service and had consumer-friendly policies, I would be more than happy to switch to their service and recommend all of my friends. The problem is that my options right now are "bad", "worse", and "even worse yet". Comcast blocks all torrent upload data in my area (disclaimer: I don't pirate content, but I do use torrents for FOSS/Linux downloads and similar uses); Verizon has declared that they plan to test a 150GB (if I remember correctly) monthly cap on FIOS in this area; and there's basically no one else around because they've been driven out of business or out of the area. Again, with the nature of the internet and the role it plays in communication and commerce, I would almost consider supporting it being regulated like a public utility, or at least with more oversight. It's all well and good to say "don't give them your money", but when I need the internet to obtain that money, I don't have many options.

Re:Sneaky, yes. Lies, not quite. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33284058)

Skype "unlimited" plan actually is 2 hours max per day.

Re:Sneaky, yes. Lies, not quite. (3, Insightful)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284076)

It is not clear from TFA whether the histogram displayed there was drawn from the sample of experimentally measured _maximum_ speeds or just the "daily usage" speeds.

If it was the former, then it gives us a snapshot of the underlying distribution of the maximum speed, and we can estimate the probability of "ISP lying about the speed", along with the variance of this estimator, directly from it.

If it was the latter, the distribution of the maximum can still be estimated. However, this is usually difficult to be done in a model-independent way.

Re:Sneaky, yes. Lies, not quite. (2, Funny)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284126)

It would be a lot more honest to advertise the "at least" speed, but they don't want to do that because according to the fine print they are actually offering at least zero Mbps.

I wonder how they would feel if their customers offered to pay them up to $40/month.

Re:Sneaky, yes. Lies, not quite. (1)

Kitkoan (1719118) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284128)

Diet/exercise companies do this all the time. They show you ads of people with amazing figures stating they used their products and look at them. For the diet ads its the rare person that comes out looking like that but by US law they can use those people as their examples because they did use the product, they just had a rare outcome (why the fine print tends to state that these aren't normal outcomes, but most people don't read the fine print). Similar for exercise equipment, but while also "forgetting" to mention that the person had to diet a lot and do much, much more then the "minimum amount of time needed" and had to use more then the equipment shown. Its all in what it takes to stay just legal enough to push your product for the most amount to money.

Re:Sneaky, yes. Lies, not quite. (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284150)

It's kind of like selling a limited service as "unlimited".

"Unlimited Internet" is phrase which took hold in the 14K dial-up days when AOL began offering unmetered service for a flat monthly rate of $19.95.

The perfect compliment to your unmetered local calling plan.
 

Re:Sneaky, yes. Lies, not quite. (1)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284186)

As a guess, the "up to" speed is what you would see if you download something from one of their servers (e.g., retrieved your e-mail). They can't control how fast anyone else's server serves data nor how fast the other server's provider is. You might see something served that fast from across the Internet but don't count on it; too many variables.

Besides, the "up to" speed is a lot faster than any speed estimate that involves realistic usage. Go figure that they quote it.

Cheers,
Dave

Re:Sneaky, yes. Lies, not quite. (2, Informative)

Anaerin (905998) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284266)

No, typically the "Up to" is the maximum possible raw bandwidth, before any kind of packetization is performed. So if the line is capable of carrying 10,000,000 raw bits of data per second, they'll advertise it as "Up to 10Mb/s". Despite the fact that, even in a perfect situation the most you would get is 7.15Mb/s (That's 10,000,000/1,048,576 (or 1024*1024)*0.75 (To allow for packet framing overhead)), or a transfer speed of 915.5KByte/sec from the ISP's servers. That's without any packet losses, signal attenuation issues, or noisy transfer media. And probably even less than that, even in a perfect situation, as their outgoing bandwidth is likely to be highly contested.

Re:Sneaky, yes. Lies, not quite. (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284310)

I believe they are looking at 'median' and 'mean' maximum speeds.

If the maximum speed your line achieve is less than the advertised speed, and they didn't inform you that the advertised speed was unavailable and inform you would get XXX instead, then the ISP lied to you.

Technically correct (4, Insightful)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283818)

Yes, some customers are getting "up to" the advertised speed. Since all the advertising says "up to" this isn't lying. Where's the story in this?

So just what am I paying for? (4, Interesting)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283866)

And how do we compare plans? If one ISP has "up to" 10 mbits, and another has "up to" 20 mbits, which one is faster?

Not lying, but not in any way honest.

Re:So just what am I paying for? (1)

infra-red (121451) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284006)

I would suggest understanding the base technology of the services you are considering.

Cable for example is a shared platform. You may share 40meg of capacity with 100 other people and be individually limited to 5meg. Depending on the users, you may or may not not ever have the network congested so you will receive less then peak value, but that doesn't mean it won't happen.

You could be unlucky enough to end up on a node with dozens of heavy torrent users.

The up-to is probably generally acceptable because 95% of consumers don't understand the underlying technology and probably are not as concerned about if they get 5meg all the time, or if sometimes they only get 3meg.

The speed they are giving probably refers to the physical cap on your access path, and the up to is to cover them off when the load simply get overwhelmed. If they are good company, they either have have tons of capacity, or they fire customers who use excessive quantities of capacity, most likely a mix of both.

Re:So just what am I paying for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33284158)

It's worse for DSL-type technologies, where users who don't actually live in the exchange cannot get the advertised speed. Your neighbors have nothing to do with it; the company that is telling you they're selling you a package of "up to 8 mbit/s" knows how far you are from the exchange and they will know full well if it is physically impossible for you to ever get more than 2 mbit/s, but they will still tell you you're getting "up to 8".

How is that not misleading?

As for

I would suggest understanding the base technology of the services you are considering.

... well, that's just ludicrous. Sorry, but there are only a tiny minority of people who would even know where to look, and fewer still who have the technical background necessary to understand the implication of the technologies. Everyone else is relying on what the service providers say.

It would seem reasonable to expect the service providers to say something that is not misleading: for example, they could give DSL customers a realistic assessment of likely speeds, and tell cable customers whether the people they're going to be sharing with are currently heavy users.

Re:So just what am I paying for? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33284048)

The answer: FIOS is faster.

Advertising.. (1)

nephridium (928664) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284096)

That's what advertising is! You don't compare products by their advertising, but by unbiased reviews, or by trying it out yourself (if there are short term subscriptions). A certain brand of beer won't get you automatically surrounded by hot chicks just as a certain brand of cigarettes won't turn you in to a cool cowboy sitting by a camp fire.

Now if there was a standardised benchmark to test broadband speed.. - But for that you'd probably need government involvement, and who wants that, right?

Re:So just what am I paying for? (2, Interesting)

jrumney (197329) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284238)

Sometimes the "lying" goes both ways. My connection was advertised as up to 2Mbps. During peak times I'm lucky to get 200k, but offpeak I've seen it running at 9Mbps.

Re:So just what am I paying for? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33284344)

Sometimes the "lying" goes both ways. My connection was advertised as up to 2Mbps. During peak times I'm lucky to get 200k, but offpeak I've seen it running at 9Mbps.

Sorry you have to hear it from me, but that is just porn that is already in your cache. It wasn't really downloading at that rate....

Re:Technically correct (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283878)

I'm one of those people and since moving to Minnesota I've always been one of those people. My DSL was "up to 2mbps" and I received 4.7mbs and with cable I'm "up to 7mbps" and receive 20mbps (18.85mbps according to my most recent aptitude safe-upgrade).

This is a non-story in my most recent experience but I'm guessing it's not for others. In a previous life, back when I had DSL in college from VZW, we would routinely see 400k/64k speeds on a connection that was supposed to be 768/256. YMMV.

The story is.. (3, Funny)

prakslash (681585) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283972)

They set up false expectations. Unfortunately everyone does it. I have bitten by this more than a few times.

Weight loss ad told me I could lose UP TO 50 lbs. I still need to request a seat-belt extender on airplanes
My employer said I could make UP TO a million dollars a year if the company does well. I am still driving a beat up Kia
And, worse of all, that nice email ad said I could increase my length UP TO 9 inches. My wife still has trouble finding it

Meh..

Re:The story is.. (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284034)

I still need to request a seat-belt extender on airplanes.

I don't know how much weight you actually lost, but just losing weight isn't always enough; you need to get some exercise to firm up your abs. Try sit-ups and crunches; you'd be surprised how much of a difference they can make, even if your weight doesn't change. And as an added benefit, if you get your stomach out of the way, your wife might just be able to see what you've got down below.

Re:The story is.. (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284338)

It seems you are talking about spot reduction, which has been repeatedly demonstrated and documented to be false.

Ab workouts don't burn more fat from the abdominal region than any other region or exercise.

Re:The story is.. (1)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284118)

And, worse of all, that nice email ad said I could increase my length UP TO 9 inches. My wife still has trouble finding it

Meh..

Funny, she had no trouble finding mine last night.

Re:Technically correct (3, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284030)

If I sold toilet bowl cleaner tablets that hang in the tank, and say they are good for "up to 1000 flushes", would it be OK if they worked for only 500 flushes for the majority of people, and the rated amount for less than 5%? No one would accept that.

When other industries advertise something (the weight in a bag of food, or of some raw material) they are advertising mean, and they have a lot of quality control to keep close to that number. Too much and they lose money, too little and people stop buying or they get sued for false advertising.

But that doesn't happen in broadband. They think it's OK for the speed to be way less than the rated, but it is almost never higher (let alone by 50%). But I have two choices right now. I have DSL that maxes out at 6mbps, and cable that is supposed to go to 24mbps. But if the top cable tier delivers 8, what am I supposed to do? It's the fastest available.

When bags of concrete mix turn out to be light, contractors stop buying because they are being ripped off and can buy another brand. The free market works there. Broadband has so little competition in most places (the majority of americans only have 2 choices, many only have one) that the options are usually "pay and suck up the false advertising" or "have no broadband at all".

They aren't selling 24 and delivering 21, they are selling 24 and delivering 12. That's not a "not always quite there", that's "complete exaggeration."

Re:Technically correct (3, Informative)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284156)

It is not lying,but it may be deceptive,and deceptive advertising is an actionable offense. Two examples of not lying that got retailers in trouble.

Many years a US discount retailer would make up prices and discount off these prices. The ad copy basically said they were made up, but in such a way that the consumer would think there were based in fact. This enabled the retailer to offer 50% savings on almost everything, though the prices were comparable with any other discount retailer. The company, whose name slips my mind, is out of business.

A department store, maybe Foley's, also got in trouble due to a tactic that many would think was legitimate. They would offer clothing at a rather high price,then advertise a sale discounting off the high price. Now, these products were actually offer for sale, so the retail price was legitimate, but it was still seen as deceptive as there was no intention by the retailer to actually make a sale at this price, just to set a price for advertising a discount. There might have been some sales at the high price, but that was not an issue. This practice is not illegal, but one will see ad copy that states no sales may have occurred at the advertised high price.

So really, on one hand this is not a big deal. The 'up to' might be enough. But given these two cases, and the fact that so few people get the 'up to' amount(much les than 10%), I would say additional ad copy would be required to make this legit. At minimum I would think a note saying that nearly no one achieves this speed. Ideally I would like to see a listing of the speed that the second and third quartile gets, in this case 0.5-2 mb. This would be most useful for the consumer as it would at least help the consumer know the kind of speeds they are likely to get. The fact that this is not done clearly indicate the 'up to' numbers are meant to be deceptive.

Re:Technically correct (2, Insightful)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284180)

It's dishonest and intended to rip off the customer. They don't promise to give you "up to 500 TV channels" - they structure it so that you pay for what you want. Bandwidth should be held to the same standards.

Masters of the bleeding obvious (1)

jrq (119773) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283824)

in other news: pope wears hat bear shits in wood etc etc

Hah (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283826)

As if companies had incentives to lie. It's a good thing they don't, or we'd need some sort of third party to make sure they didn't rip anybody off. Where the hell would we get one of those?

Docsis (1)

dhanson865 (1134161) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283832)

Tell me about it. I was intermittently losing connectivity with a docsis 1.1 modem that was giving me 4+ mbit most of the time. The tech I called recommended I get a Docsis 3 modem so I did. I no longer have connectivity issues so it was a good call by the tech but I'm still seeing 2.x to 4.x mbit downloads and getting 0.3 Mbit uploads at best.

I called back after getting the new modem to get it provisioned, then called the next day after running speedtests. They said I should expect closer to 7mbit down instead of the 2 to 4 I'm getting but DOCSIS 3 would hit my area in the next few weeks taking the advertised to 12 Mbit down. So if I'm getting half the advertised speed I'll still see my download speed double if all they do is bond 2 channels for me.

I'm running at 100 Percent (4, Funny)

amiga3D (567632) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283834)

I have a small local ISP here. Comsouth.net they consistently run at 100 percent of advertised speed. I'm amazed sometimes how fast it is. No lag, no drop in speed after the kiddies get home from school. I don't know what's wrong with them.

Technically.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33283850)

'up to 6.7 Mbps' while the real median was 3 Mbps and the mean was 4 Mbps.

Prefixed with "up to" this technically isn't false advertising, or at least you could rationalize that. 'Up to' doesn't necessarily mean you will actually get that number. Don't get me wrong, this still sucks.

Re:Technically.. (5, Insightful)

jc42 (318812) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283896)

I learned long ago that whenever an advertiser says "up to", you should always translate it as "less than" in your mind. That's what they're really saying; they're just saying it in a way that's misleading but legal.

I'd always assumed as much (1)

AaxelB (1034884) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283854)

I always taken "up to" X Mbps to mean you might get bursts up to X, but would hopefully average X/2 or so, and I'm a bit of an optimist. They've always been very careful to specify that you'll definitely get less than X, why is it surprising that you do?

Re:I'd always assumed as much (1)

Golden_Rider (137548) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284082)

I am just surprised that they can get away with advertising a connection as "up to" when the majority of their users NEVER see a speed anywhere near that and the ISP knows that. Car analogy: advertising a car as "max speed up to 250 miles per hour" when it can, due to engine etc., reach a max of 120 miles/hour ("well, our car CAN reach 250 miles/hour, if you strap a rocket to the back of it, but during normal use, you may not reach that speed").

Re:I'd always assumed as much (1)

Anaerin (905998) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284318)

Strapping a rocket to the back might be a bit much. This is more like:

Up To 250MPH*

* In a vacuum

You don't say! (5, Funny)

fudoniten (918077) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283864)

This is unbelievable! Next you're going to tell me that "3.9G wireless" doesn't mean anything, or that 9 out of 10 doctors don't recommend Crest, or that most items in an "up to 90% off!" sale are not in fact 90% off!

Sounds pretty paranoid to me. If we can't trust company advertisements for unbiased information, what can we trust?

Median 3Mbit, Mean 4Mbit (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283872)

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

The real story is that over 50% of the users get less than 50% of the average bandwidth. I'm not sure how to explain it, but the difference between median and mean looks quite significant to me.

Re:Median 3Mbit, Mean 4Mbit (1)

hwk_br (570932) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284212)

The real story is that over 50% of the users get less than 50% of the average bandwidth.

And 50% of the users like their ISPs 50% more than they deserve... Altho my ISP allocates 12797Kbps downstream for a 10Mbit plan. "Viva GVT"

Re:Median 3Mbit, Mean 4Mbit (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284270)

I expect it's because during peak usage, you get less bandwidth. But also more users are using it during peak hours (by definition). So the bulk of people are using it primarily at peak hours and getting <= 3 Mbps, and the remainder get >> 4Mbps on average (possibly pretty close to 6.7 on off-peak hours).

RCN in Chicago (3, Interesting)

cspankne (98424) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283880)

I have RCN (Cable and Internet) in Chicago. I have spoken candidly with technicians who come out to do installations and I have verified through several phone calls with customer representatives that they "aim" for 60% of advertised speeds. I perform speedtests, using their preferred site and have found that I am almost ALWAYS at 60% of advertised speeds. In order to get over 10 mbit/sec down, I have to pay for the "20mbit/sec" rate, and am typically around 12 mbit/sec down. If I was a normal customer, I'd easily compare the 20mbit/sec advertise rate against competition and opt for RCN's as it is the cheapest price for that advertised speed. Complete garbage and misleading to consumers. How is this legal?

Re:RCN in Chicago (1)

bjackson1 (953136) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283928)

It probably is due to the fact that we are on different nodes of the network, but I have RCN 20 megabit as well here in Chicago, and I get pretty constant 18mbps... Consistant enough that I think they are throttling me to 18mbps, since I've rarely seen under and never seen over.

Most people won't even know the difference... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33283886)

On a related note, I'll never forget a commercial TWC put out for Roadrunner in Charlotte, NC a few years back. It went something to the tune of: exasperated subscriber "I hated it when tech support would spit acronyms at me.. ISP? WLAN? What are those?" Perhaps I have unrealistic expectations, but it seems like a lot of the leverage telcoms have in screwing us comes from an uneducated and apathetic customer base. Start caring about the quality of your service and complaining if it sucks! Unfortunately, TWC has a local monopoly (more or less) on high speed connections at my current home, so I'm stuck feeding the beast...

Here in Brazil they lie a lot with 3G Broadband (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33283910)

It's common here in Brazil where ISPs announces high speed in ther mobile broadband but, in fact, it's very slow compared with other countries.

I believe it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33283944)

hm, my ISP advertises download speeds of 4mb/s, but the actual speed is 1/8th that. At best.

Up to... (1)

TKBui (574476) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283966)

I have fibre to my house (10Mbps symetrical) and I get close to that (per speakeasy.net/speedtest) 9.75Mbps/9.12Mbps. Should I sue? :-) Oh yeah... I pay $70/mth for 1.5/384 ADSL. TKBui

Loophole (1)

gabereiser (1662967) | more than 3 years ago | (#33283968)

The loop hole here is "up to"... "up to" != "is"

Re:Loophole (1)

Spewns (1599743) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284072)

The loop hole here is "up to"... "up to" != "is"

No shit.

It's hard to believe so many people have nothing more to say than that. This is clearly dishonest, inaccurate advertisement, yet it could say "Up to 10000000000000000000 Mbps" and dozens of dorkos will still chyme in with "but it says up to! Hur hur hur hur!"

Re:Loophole (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284170)

It's not dishonest because their "up to" speed is still *actually* achievable with their infrastructure under absolutely ideal conditions.... the fact that such ideal conditions generally don't ever happen is irrelevant.

Re:Loophole (2, Insightful)

Sancho (17056) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284196)

No, "up to" means that the connection, including provisioning, is capable of transmitting data at that rate. If it's impossible to transmit data up to that rate, then that would be false advertising.

Re:Loophole (1)

queazocotal (915608) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284342)

In many cases it's completely impossible to accurately determine the speed that you will get before the equipment is actually installed.

Re:Loophole (2, Interesting)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284090)

Yeah, I don't get the point of this article. The ISPs have the weasel words right in front of you, they're not hiding anything.

Now with that "unlimited" connection promise, on the other hand...

~Philly

Running at 4% in Hong Kong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33283992)

As do all my relatives.

I use i-Cable's "10Mbps" service. It's a joke. I have never achieved anything faster than 0.5Mbps, and most of the time it is 0.4Mbps (i.e. 50KB/s). My cousins all use PCCW as their ISP. I have one cousin using PCCW 30Mbps "Fibre Broadband" getting 1Mbps (sometimes up to 1.5Mbps!!!). I got another on PCCW 100Mbps getting 6Mbps regularly.

Also, I see advertisements for weight-loss pills throughout the city. Most of them herbal.

I guess there are no laws against false advertising ;p

No problem with Cox (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33283996)

I have been on Cox cable Internet for more than 10 years and have always gotten the advertised speed (assuming a good connection to a good remote server).

I mean it's not always the maximum speed due to many factors but most of the time it is. In fact, most of the time it's a little faster than they advertise.

Currently my connection is "up to" 15 Mbps but my long term steady speed is usually 16.8 Mbps and the first 10 to 30 seconds of a download often burst over 30 Mbps.

So I guess it depends on who your ISP is. Up until recently they were kind of annoying with very low bandwidth caps (40 GB/mo) but now it's not too bad (not great but not horrible at something like 200 GB/mo).

Re:No problem with Cox (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284254)

Yeah cable can be great for burst speeds. When I used Optus cable I once downloaded a fairly big file (say 30MG) with wget. The command actually completed before I noticed it had finished. I thought it had failed and looked for an empty file, but it was all there. Must have come down the line in one chunk.

What did they measure? (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284012)

I've got a piddly 2Mbit/sec cheap connection here in urban USA, and top out at around 200KB/sec download speed. However, some sites can't push data to fill even that little pipe. If they are measuring sustained speed of a single download, your 20Mbit/sec connection can theoretically go 2MB/sec but are the server connections you're downloading from capable of sustaining those upload speeds for common uses? What about traffic congestion further behind the point of speed throttle you're paying for?

Learn some GD math and shut up. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33284070)

Your should learn to fucking read. 200 K Byte/second is 1.6 M bit /second. Add in the damn overhead and I would tell you to count your lucky stars that your rate is so good or go back to a 14.4 modem. Quit your bitching and learn your damn units.

Network Technician General's Warning... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33284036)

Your Network Technician General recommends an internet connection high in fiber.

median and the mean (0)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284038)

Yeah, but what about the average?

Re:median and the mean (2, Funny)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284198)

Come on, did you fail maths or something? If the median is 3 and the mean is 4, then the average is 3.5.

Why, send them a nice letter... (5, Funny)

zogger (617870) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284092)

...tell them you will pay them "up to" the agreed on price for their service, but you will determine what the real sums involved will be.

Without regulated standards, who cares? (1)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284104)

They claim "up to X Mbps". As long as some customer out there gets X Mbps, they are NOT lying. They may be completely gaming the system, but most companies in their situation would do the same thing given the cable vs DSL competition right now....

This is why there needs to be FCC regulated standards for stated services levels/Internet bandwidth based on real statistical measurements. Most cable and DSL modems out there are capable of bandwidth testing. Sample enough of them, take the median, mean, standard deviation, whatever, and allow them to state certain claims based on the results, as long as they are clear. This level of data is already required for food, cars, (some) utilities, etc, why not Internet access?

its a story because (3, Insightful)

Rivalz (1431453) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284122)

Not everyone realizes that other people are getting substantially better internet for the same amount from the same company based on the same agreement.
I think its high time corporate America fully embraces the "Up to" mentality.
Here are some suggestions
1) Restaurants / Groceries (Up to meals) Only give half the people half the portions of food.
2) Gas Stations (Up to 1 gallon for $2.80) Some days we dont have to give any gas but if you go 24hrs without getting any gas we will give you a minor refund of what you paid.
3) Cell phone minutes (up to 2100 family minutes during peak hours) But really only give 50% of the minutes to half the clients and charge them more for the rest.
4) Warranty (We warranty all our services up to 2 years ( meaning we can deny your service before or after 2 years, but after 2 we will always deny it.)
5) Intrest rates ( up to 2% fixed interest rate for the life of the CD ) Up to meaning we dont have to pay anything but at most we will pay 2%.

Can anyone think of any others?

Re:its a story because (1)

spencebot (1103093) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284336)

Power supplies for computers kind of work like this. Many of them advertise their peak power (a few advertise the rms), but obviously peak power is not nearly as meaningful. Wiki has some other good examples on their "power handling" page.

Qwest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33284134)

They advertised to us that we should get "UP TO" 1.5MB/s for download.

My download speed never goes higher than 160kb/s.

So are you saying, I am only getting 12% of what I am paying for?

Re:Qwest (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284286)

is that 160 kilobits per second, or 160 kilobytes per second?

You might need to multiply or divide by 8. Units are important.

Big Bad ISP Good (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33284142)

Well, I guess I'm the lucky one. I pay extra for bandwidth to my home, and the plan calls for 15 Mbps.

I've measured that puppy several times right at 30 Mbps. Most times, it hovers around 20.

I'm lovin' this.

Most surprising of all, it's a well known major ISP.

They still couldn't run a DNS server to save their lives (Thank you, OpenDNS), but on the bandwidth front I have no complaints. (Other than cost, of course :) ). That, and my upload appears to be 640 Kbps instead of 768... Oh well.

The incentives are all wrong (4, Interesting)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284160)

With unlimited plans, the ISP's incentive is to prevent you from using up all your bandwidth, because infrastructure costs money, so if you used up all your neighborhood's bandwidth, they'd have to upgrade their network.

With a per-megabyte plan, the company's incentive is to provide you with more bandwidth than you could ever possibly need so that nothing will prevent you from downloading as much as possible.

If we want fast pipes, we should be asking for pay as you go data plans.

Up to is what I get (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284164)

I wonder how many people really care? For email and web browsing does it really matter? Would the 50% difference even be noticeable? How many people even measure their speeds?

Now for a heavier user like me and many other slashdotters who do a variety of things on the net the difference is significant, and I hold my ISP accountable when I get more than 10% less than the up to number. Since I have Optimum Online Boost that means 30mbs down and 5 up. Which I get unless there is some serious interruption due to act of God. And if I didn't get it without good reason I'd be on to another ISP, which in this case would be FIOS, which has a good reputation for actually delivering the up to number.

The current state of affairs is simply due to the fact that 50% of advertised is probably good enough for most people so they don't raise a ruckus.

Re:Up to is what I get (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33284306)

Not for long. Mom and Dad, Gramps and Gram are starting to stream Netflix and the like now Normal Mom and Pop usage is changing.

I wonder how many people really care? For email and web browsing does it really matter? Would the 50% difference even be noticeable? How many people even measure their speeds?

Now for a heavier user like me and many other slashdotters who do a variety of things on the net the difference is significant, and I hold my ISP accountable when I get more than 10% less than the up to number. Since I have Optimum Online Boost that means 30mbs down and 5 up. Which I get unless there is some serious interruption due to act of God. And if I didn't get it without good reason I'd be on to another ISP, which in this case would be FIOS, which has a good reputation for actually delivering the up to number.

The current state of affairs is simply due to the fact that 50% of advertised is probably good enough for most people so they don't raise a ruckus.

Tell me what the CIR is... (1)

rotide (1015173) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284168)

I don't care what your maximum is as I'm merely going to consider that the maximum burst speed under optimal occasions. What I want to know is, what is the CIR? Ya, I know, it doesn't exist in residential service, well, that sucks.

Misunderstanding the meaning of the word "lie" (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33284178)

It seems people like to stretch the meaning of the word "lie" to mean "inconvenient to me." You see, as long as someone can achieve the advertised maximum speed, it is not a lie. If it really was a lie, then that would illegal, and opening the companies for not only civil lawsuit, but criminal charges.

Just because most users don't get the maximum advertised speed, and the average/median/mean speed is not the maximum speed doesn't mean the company is falsely advertising their "up to" speeds. There are various conditions that can affect the speed of the connection and this is usually outlined in the advertisement and/or the agreement.

The only thing the ISPs may be lying about is possibly the implication of capacity to support those connections. However, because they don't advertise "we have the capacity for everyone to use 10mbps" you can't really catch them in a lie.

In fact, it is 1/3 (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284202)

A friend of mine, in ISPs business, told me these simple facts:

a) Up to 3MBps means 1MBps

b) If you have lets say 100 customers, statistically speaking, they are using only 1/3 of their bandwidth, and usually only 1/3 of the time (no one is only 24h/7days/4weeks/etc.

c) In fact, depending of your customers age, you could even divide their UP speed by 10 (if there is no torrents for example)

So, if you have 100 customers, and you promised them 3MBps, the actual bandwidth that the ISP is byuing is 100*1 = 100MBps.....These cheap bastards.

This is News? (1)

Ironhandx (1762146) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284246)

In other news, water is wet.

Seriously, is there anyone on slashdot that wasn't well aware of this? I think its even safe to say 99% of people GLOABALLY don't get speeds as advertised. In fact I had a connection that I know for a fact could never, ever possibly hit the advertised speed as advertised was 5mbps and the modem was throttled to 4 mbps max in the firmware. Not that I even had to worry about that as 3mbps at 2 am on a good day was like greased lightning compared to normal rates. It was the "Premium" service however. My packets would get prioritized over others, basically guaranteeing me a 10-20 ms ping drop from being prioritized locally and I was playing a lot of MMO's at the time, so a 1mbps connection with a lower ping was worthwhile.

Not Much Issue With Fios (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33284260)

I have had Verizon Fios for years and I get pretty damn close, if not above stated max speeds. Right now I'm on a 35 Mbps symmetrical and I get about 34 Mbps up and 43 Mbps down. I top out downloading at about 5 MB/s. I have been with Fios for so long I didn't realize this "up to" deal was a normal practice...While not a lie, I agree it's a bit misleading...

Did also believe the governments MPG ratings? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33284276)

Did also believe the governments MPG ratings?

ok (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284304)

My first modem was 2400 bps. It was slow enough that I could read text as it came in. My next modem was 9600 bps. Door games ran a little faster, which was cool. My third modem was 14.4k. I was able to download Doom. It took me 6 hours. You all need to calm the hell down and get some perspective. Bunch of spoiled babies.

Why Some ISPs should be sued... (1)

Bazar (778572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33284322)

Here in NZ most of the providers will advertise plans as "downloads as fast as your connection can handle", then an upload cap of 256Kb/s.

The result is that even if you connect to the exchange at 18Mb/s, you'll find using more then 3Mb/s impossible because of the tiny upload.
Each packet you receive by tcp requires confirmation packet to be sent. Each sent packet uses your upload bandwidth.

So by all practical measures, your download speed is limited by its upload speed. As fast as you can download is false advertising, as its as fast as your upload allows.

I'd love to see companies sued over false advertising, as it is misleading the public into thinking they are downloading as fast as possible, when they are only getting a fraction of their true potential.

this story is 100 percent falsehoods and lies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33284348)

Or more precisely, up to 100 percent falsehoods and lies

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...