Beta

×

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!

Bill Would Make Carriers Publish 4G Data Speeds

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the show-me-the-numbers dept.

Government 99

GovTechGuy writes "A new bill from Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) would force wireless carriers to provide consumers with information on the minimum data speeds for their 4G networks at both the point of sale as well as on all billing materials. The bill would also task the FCC with compiling a Consumer Reports-style comparison of the 4G data speeds at the top ten wireless carriers so customers can view a side-by-side comparison."

cancel ×

99 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Area? (1, Insightful)

Fusen (841730) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535596)

Minimum data speeds? Surely it depends on the device you are using and the area you are in...The bill obviously has good intentions but it'll be hard to maintain the info.

Re:Area? (1, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535618)

Surely it depends on the device you are using and the area you are in...

And? Are you saying these companies don't have that info? Please...

The bill obviously has good intentions but it'll be hard to maintain the info.

Boohoo?

Re:Area? (2)

psiclops (1011105) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535850)

And? Are you saying these companies don't have that info? Please...

Yes they do, as does everyone, i'll tell you know, the minmum speed for all of them is 0.

GP was correct in that the speed you actually recieve will be anywhere between there and their maximum speed depending on your device and coverage.

Re:Area? (2)

jrumney (197329) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536970)

My guess is that what the politicians are really interested in is the contention rate - or the maximum download speed you can expect with a perfect signal at the busiest time of day. Minimum download speed is uninteresting, it not only depends on your distance from towers and the device you are using, but network congestion everywhere between you and your destination, so the only valid value that could be advertised is zero.

Re:Area? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535890)

The bill obviously has good intentions but it'll be hard to maintain the info.

Boohoo?

Seems like "hardships" on companies usually just means hardships (no quotes) on the consumers' wallets.

"Due to intrusive federal regulations, we have been forced to do excessive monitoring of our network and publish the results. This has resulted in a $5 increase per month on your cell phone bill.

And, uh, those other miscellaneous charges were also due to big government... yeah..."

I say do it anyway, misleading marketing is misleading marketing and should be stamped out, but I'm calling it now that we'll be paying for it.

Re:Area? (5, Insightful)

i_b_don (1049110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536204)

So fucking what?

Do we also pay for listing the octane quantity on the sides of gas stations? Do we also pay for the calorie labels on the sides of food? The reporting of fuel economy of cars before you buy them? I'll take that cost any-day.

I can't believe anyone would bitch and moan about this. This is an awesome idea. This is what regulation should be, forcing clear and equal reporting of information about a product so the customer can make the best informed decision possible.

The only sad thing about this bill is that brilliance like this doesn't occur more often in politics.

This is a great idea!

d

Re:Area? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536362)

I can't believe anyone would bitch and moan about this. This is an awesome idea.

it is any awesome idea but it's also not practical. speeds / latency vary by the tens of feet in cities, and depends on the weather, and how many trucks are parked around you. seriously, any sort of guarantee would be meaningless.

don't get me wrong, of course service is completely sub par for many americans, but writing such a bill isn't going to magically quadruple the deployed mobile broadband hardware to a state where such a guarantee will mean something.

Re:Area? (1)

Shompol (1690084) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538586)

Same principle applies as when reporting net weight on packages. The actual weight varies from package to package. Fortunately, regulators have a tool to combat this "chaos": STATISTICS 101! I was told that the actual rule for reporting package weight is "no more than 20% of the product can fall below the claimed weight". Easy, right? But the magic does not stop here: the agency (competitor/prosecutor/overzealous customer) makes N 100's of samples, which might or might not come out short of the claimed weight by more than the 20%, as allowed by regulators. At this point they compute the std. deviation of their test, to deduce the probability of your claimed speed (weight/MPG/etc.) holding water. Good luck defending your claimed speed if the probability of it being true is less than 5% (1% / 0.01% -- you can always take more samples) .

Re:Area? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536514)

I can't believe anyone would bitch and moan about this. This is an awesome idea.

1. You'll notice I wasn't bitching or moaning about it so much as making a cynical prediction, while still endorsing the plan.
2. If you can't believe someone would bitch and moan about something... welcome to the internet!

Re:Area? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36538806)

I'll be that contrarian asshole... because it's the internet and /. has this handy "anon" option.

We're drowning in debt at the federal level. Our economy is still in shambles and getting worse. People are losing their homes while anyone that was a millionaire before the crash is wealthier now than they were then. Some of them on my tax dollars. The states are bankrupt, and are going to have to jack up taxes by 1,400/individual for the next 30 years to meet pension obligations. Some of which are for lifeguards and such making over 100k/yr in retirement. We have two wars going on, causing us to bleed money while our children bleed for real. We have a severe economic fault about to snap in Europe. In the meantime everyone that's supposed to be fixing these things is busy doing stupid campaign shit.

And this, of all things, is what people are spending our time and money on? What are we, children? People can read goddamn reviews and make a decision, just like their parents did. Let's do something genuinely useful about something important for a change. I don't much care if some idiot buys the wrong phone on a shitty network and can't bury their face in Facebook as much as they'd like. Considering a life lesson in being a responsible consumer and do better next time.

We can revisit trivial, pandering legislation for the facebook generation some other time. Like, after we've dealt with a real problem or two.

How'd I do for nasty internet opinion?

Re:Area? (1)

uncqual (836337) | more than 3 years ago | (#36537764)

Do we also pay for listing the octane quantity on the sides of gas stations? Do we also pay for the calorie labels on the sides of food? The reporting of fuel economy of cars before you buy them?

Yes - but the cost is hidden in the price you pay for the product and is probably quite minimal.

Re:Area? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36545722)

Do we also pay for listing the octane quantity on the sides of gas stations? Do we also pay for the calorie labels on the sides of food? The reporting of fuel economy of cars before you buy them?

Yes - but the cost is hidden in the price you pay for the product and is probably quite minimal.

The taxes on a gallon of gasoline are considerable. The idea that the costs of government are minimal is absurd.
All government regulations are always reflected in the cost to the consumer yet we rarely know the true cost.

There is also the fact that whatever the government touches it fucks up for everybody.

I would much rather see an independent and private group (preferably ad supported) with a web page to compile and make public these numbers so the consumer can have a little better idea of whether the bandwidth data is actually true and not affected by the carriers campaign contributions. I haven't looked but somebody may already be doing this.

Re:Area? (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536452)

If there's not a government "hardship" for them to charge for, they'll just say there is anyway, so we might as well get something for it./

If they weren't such rapacious lying weasels, they wouldn't have to deal with stuff like this.

Re:Area? (1)

colsandurz45 (1314477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535732)

The speed you can get also depends on the wireless propagation channel. If you're right next to a cell tower you get a lower error rate than if you're in a shadow, fade or something like that.

Re:Area? (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536156)

The speed on the report can also depend on the testing software, testing environment, etc.

It's not like companies far and wide have not set up tests, or altered units, etc. to obtain the results that look the best. It's about presenting a plate of crap as an expensive Surf & Turf meal.

10 years ago, I remember that AT&T would give you the speeds (if you asked the technical people) but those were speeds that were measured at tower use rates of less than 20%. I was told that Verizon gave you the speed measurements, but at what they would be if the tower was at capacity.

Big difference, and I fully admit that it was hearsay and anecdotal.

In any case, if forced, you can bet the carriers will weasel around like sons of bitches when it comes to how they perform their testing.

I would be more impressed if the bill named an independent 3rd party that defined all the parameters of the tests to make sure they were true apples to apples comparisons.

Presenting Crap Appetizingly (1)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536346)

It's about presenting a plate of crap as an expensive Surf & Turf meal.

I hear they're working on that [slashdot.org] .

Mm, mm! Gotta get me one of them unko baagaa specials! Probably taste better than most corporate bullshit, anyway...

Cheers,

Re:Presenting Crap Appetizingly (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538316)

It's about presenting a plate of crap as an expensive Surf & Turf meal.

I hear they're working on that [slashdot.org] .

Mm, mm! Gotta get me one of them unko baagaa specials! Probably taste better than most corporate bullshit, anyway...

Cheers,

Still tastes like sh*t to me...

Re:Area? (1)

i_b_don (1049110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536234)

I don't see how this is a problem... just make the reported bandwidth a statistical number. For example, the average data speed of each customer is X... or the 10th percentile and 90th percentile data rate for every packet of information. If a phone company only pays for towers that are in non-ideal locations so their customers more often see crappy signal strength, then that should be apparent in the information provided. This is not a flaw in reporting, but something that we should see in the data.

This is government regulation done right.

d

Re:Area? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536626)

Before declaring it's "done right", shouldn't you wait to see if they actually DO implement proper statistical measures? I'm afraid Congress will leave the exact data to be report up to bureacrats, and we've all seen enough regulatory capture to believe that ends up with ass-pulled "typical minimum throughput" numbers from all the carriers that have nothing to do with actual field conditions.

Re:Area? (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#36537722)

Minimum data speeds? Surely it depends on the device you are using and the area you are in...The bill obviously has good intentions but it'll be hard to maintain the info.

Hmmm, other nations seem to have no problem with this.

From Big Pong [bigpond.com] , Australia's worst telco,

Speed: Typical download speeds are from 1.1Mbps to 20Mbps in all capital city

Honesty in advertising is really hard and it sucks for consumers. We would all be better off if they kept lying to us.

Re:Area? (1)

Fusen (841730) | more than 3 years ago | (#36537814)

so as long as they say "from zero up to the maximum we have advertised" then it's sufficient? seems pretty pointless.

Re:Area? (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 3 years ago | (#36537838)

so as long as they say "from zero up to the maximum we have advertised" then it's sufficient? seems pretty pointless.

Uh, no.

That's pretty stupid as they dont give you an idea of minimum typical speeds. What Helstra (mentioned above in my GP post) does say is that if it's working, you will likely get between 1.1 and 8 Mb/s.

I dont quite get your logic here, you're saying off should be listed as a working speed? Something about that seems wrong.

What user cares about that? You've got to think about it from the end users perspective, they want to know is what speeds to expect when they are using it.

Re:Area? (1)

Fusen (841730) | more than 3 years ago | (#36537910)

If I'm in doors within an old building with thick walls I may only be able to get 5kB/s If I'm in a sports stadium and it's half time with everyone trying to use their phone at the same time, I may get 0kB/s and not be able to do anything. Both of these are true "minimum" speeds that can happen fairly frequently. What it sounds like the bill should be asking for is the average data speed.

Re:Area? (1)

RobNich (85522) | more than 3 years ago | (#36551586)

The average would be just as useless as a "minimum". Throughput is based on your device's chipset, firmware, antenna configuration, possibly battery charge, sunspots, interference, orientation, height, location, network load, specific tower, distance from tower, tower load, and probably more. Hell, latency can affect throughput. No single average throughput number would ever be useful. Ever.

Re:Area? (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 3 years ago | (#36539790)

From Big Pong [bigpond.com], Australia's worst telco,

I thought that was Telstra.

What about latency? (5, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535602)

With AT&T's 3G, the latency is so bad that it feels far slower than the speed would imply. I think just publishing the speed is only a small part of the overall picture.

Re:What about latency? (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535682)

They should probably be forced to publish all that info. And why just 4g? That seems rather stupid to limit it only to that service. They should be providing accurate numbers to their customers rather than those coverage maps they show that are mostly total lies.

Re:What about latency? (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536042)

The coverage maps aren't lies. They're just useless because they don't provide nearly high enough granularity, don't account for variations in handsets, and don't take into account whether you are in a building or not.

Odds are good that in most of the places where they claim to have a signal, you can get a signal, so long as you have a good handset and are outdoors. The problem is that with a typical handset, indoors, you can't. Sure, the wall is only... say an 8dB difference, and the handset is just another 12 dB on top of that, but when your signal is dodgy to begin with, that's more than enough.

The only way to get a really good idea of the cellular phone signal in a particular area is to drive around and plot signal strengths all around the area under various weather conditions and at various times of day. This is not an easily solved problem. If it were, you'd already have the data. :-) That said, if your particular area is covered by it, the CNET/Root Metrics coverage map [cnet.com] is generally a good approximation of reality, from what I've seen.

Re:What about latency? (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536144)

They should be forced to *adhere* to a standard definition. Nobody's going to actually read this published crap except a few lone nerds. This is mostly pointless regulation.

Re:What about latency? (1)

Mystiq (101361) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536386)

They should be forced to adhere to a standard definition, agreed. But why, then, do all other internet companies always tell you their "up to" speed and wireless carriers never do? Even when all carriers adhere to a standard, much like, say, Time Warner and Cablevision, that doesn't mean they're deploying it exactly the same way.

I would be much happier if they were only allowed to call real 4G as 4G and not 3.14159G as 4G. If the bill included something like they have to give speeds for the phone in, say, the locale you bought it in, that'd at least be somewhat more meaningful than "4G!" by itself -- which is essentially all we get now.

If this goes through, I hope it would be a point of competition because it sure as hell isn't now. I would imagine, for most people, there is very little perceived difference between wireless carriers apart from the phones offered. I'm one of those few lone nerds and I barely know the difference between Verizon and AT&T in my area except for the phones they offer and which one's customer service sucks less.

Re:What about latency? (1)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536656)

I would be much happier if they were only allowed to call real 4G as 4G and not 3.14159G as 4G.

What is 'real 4g'? Don't bother answering, you can't, cause you don't know, because it doesn't actually have a definition, so you can't tell them they aren't providing 4g.

Thats why its called '2g' or '3g' or whatever. Its so devoid of useful meaning that you can not possibly prove the telco wrong or call them a liar.

My bass boat uses 6g equipment. By 6g I mean its the 6th prototype board I've made for it that includes a zigbee for communications, I'm just as accurate as the telco's but I assure you, you'd never want to try to use the radio link on my boat for anything other than over night data offloads between vessels.

Re:What about latency? (1)

Mystiq (101361) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536858)

LTE Advanced is a proposed standard for "Real 4G" for wireless carriers. AT&T will be rolling it out first, I believe. In any case, that's not what I really care about. I did say 4G is pretty meaningless. They used to be just phone providers but they've already turned into internet service providers and should be treated as such. I want to know what kind of speed I can expect. If you read the article, the drivel from the phone company representative is priceless.

However, a group representing the wireless industry was less enthusiastic, arguing the new rules would oversimplify a complex issue.

“We are concerned that the bill proposes to add a new layer of regulation to a new and exciting set of services, while ignoring the fact that wireless is an inherently complex and dynamic environment in which network speeds can vary depending on a wide variety of factors," said CTIA—The Wireless Association vice president of government affairs Jot Carpenter.

"Congress should resist calls to impose new regulations and instead focus on the real issue, which is making sure that America’s wireless carriers have sufficient spectrum to lead the world in the race to deploy 4G services.”

We're not leading the world in anything when it comes to internet-based services, and surely not 4G when our carriers don't even use the proposed standard for wireless 4G yet.

There is very little competition among the wireless providers aside from the phones they carry and for all intents and purposes that "competition" is completely contrived. The prices are roughly the same, the services offered are roughly the same. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that AT&T and Verizon are colluding with one another given how once AT&T dropped unlimited data plans, Verizon followed suit. And now Verizon is calling 5 GB "unlimited?" And if you use more your usage is considered unacceptable and your contract is terminated [cybernetnews.com] ?

Wireless carriers should be held to the same (unacceptable) standard that wireline ISPs are held to.

Re:What about latency? (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536714)

But why, then, do all other internet companies always tell you their "up to" speed and wireless carriers never do?

Some people are still lucky to even HAVE data plans. Data is relatively new to the phone-carrying populace, and so 3G to them just means "fast enough internet for my iPhone" because before 3G, we all accidentally hit the web button on our Motorola RAZRs and found out how goddamn slow it was.

In that sense, now that wireless carriers are becoming internet service providers rather than phone service providers, being clear about speed will start to matter more.

The phone companies are trying to avoid any internet speed commitments. They still want to be phone carriers with a checklist of feature - one being 3G, one being 4G.

If they have to explain what "4G" means, let's just ban the term and say they have to specify the speed under normal operating conditions. Otherwise, let's regulate what 4G means. This proposed regulation seems like some sort of quasi-inbetween that will not make a huge difference because a carrier will advertise 4G!!!!! and in small font "2mbps" - stuff that only us nerds will pay attention to.

4 Gbit/s (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 3 years ago | (#36537548)

Otherwise, let's regulate what 4G means.

The most logical definition is 4 Gbit/s, but that won't be achieved anytime soon.

Re:What about latency? (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536422)

The issue here is the use of 4G branding and advertising "4G speeds" when that phrase is completely meaningless other than "it's faster than 3G"

Just glancing at the wiki page for 4G, I can see that LTE Advanced defines a peak down speed of 1Gbps, Mobile WiMAX at 128Mbps, and with ATT's HSPA+ at 56Mbps. Just throwing the term 4G means nothing and only serves to confuse customers. It's a buzzword.

Re:What about latency? (3, Interesting)

rcpitt (711863) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538226)

While you're talking about latency - take a look at Bufferbloat [bufferbloat.net] and the stuff pertaining to wireless networks in general and cell-data in particular.

Much of today's cell tower equipment is installed with no queue management turned on - and 100% retry "forever" (or at least a long period of time, longer than the 2 seconds it takes TCP/IP sessions to decide a packet didn't get there and resend, causing cascading congestion) and loads of buffer space to the point where latency is measured in 10s of seconds in some cases.

A carrier that actually takes advantage of the queue management built into the edge equipment can make their network faster and "feel" faster, and cut down on the actual amount of data they carry - but many (most?) don't have a clue.

For those interested in diving deeper - take a look at the Bufferbloat mail list and for want of a better one, this post by Jonathan Morton that speaks of 3G [bufferbloat.net]

I'm not sure who Bill is... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36535622)

But if he has can make them do this, then more power to him.

Re:I'm not sure who Bill is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36535702)

Bill Stickers!

Re:I'm not sure who Bill is... (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536098)

Bill Stickers is innocent!

Minimum data speed = 0 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36535626)

What I'd like to see is a sticker on phones like you see on new cars. It would have the average and maximum data speeds as well as average and maximum battery life printed right on it.

Re:Minimum data speed = 0 (1)

ksandom (718283) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535838)

Without having read the article, I imagine the aim is to give the companies something they will have to compete with, which they can be held to. They have to compete on it because if their numbers are lower than someone else's, then that is a disadvantage. But if their numbers are higher they have to follow through.

While we can be pedantic about the words in a summary, it's probably missing the point.

I like your thoughts on the avg and max speeds as well.

Re:Minimum data speed = 0 (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536292)

That better be a sticker on the contract, not on the phone.

Damn you, Gates! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36535654)

Will you ever leave us alone?

Easy Peasy (2, Insightful)

BBF_BBF (812493) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535672)

It's completely useless, the minimum GUARANTEED transfer speed will the same for all carriers: 0 bits per second

Stupid non-technical congresswoman doesn't realize that wireless connections can have dead spots, so claiming any more than 0 would be fraud. :rolleyes:

Re:Easy Peasy (1)

psyque (1234612) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535718)

Hopefully it's worded in a way that specifies minimum transfer speed from the service providers servers. Not taking into account service area or other environmental factors. Basically making it a "This is the maximum amount we'll throttle you" Bill. I doubt it though.

Re:Easy Peasy (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535800)

Yeah, just like MPG on car labels is always 0 since you might be driving the car flipped over.

The reasonable congresswoman knows that this is the type of data the providers already have, and regularly track. It is tested in labs and in the field.

Re:Easy Peasy (2)

LurkerXXX (667952) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536372)

Psst, no company ever posts a minimum MPG on a car. None of them. Ever.

They post averages. Those are useful. Maximum 4g speed for the phone would also be good because some phone companies (AT&T) label several phones 4g, even though some of them use slower protocols than others.

The congresswoman is not reasonable. She doesn't understand the minimum, which she asked for, is useless.

Average for an area would be good. Maximum would also be good to publish. Minimum is useless.

Re:Easy Peasy (1)

Shompol (1690084) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538626)

Maximum is what they currently advertise: they achieved it once. in a lab. was probably a speed-o-meter glitch. How is maximum useful beyond scamming customers is beyond me.

Minimum is what used for labeling package weights at a grocery store. It works.

Average is kinda useful too. However, if the "average" is everywhere but in my neighborhood, where I consistently get 6..30 Kbps (my actual number from AT&T two years ago)? What exactly does the Average mean for me and my expensive two year contract? Exactly nothing!

Would you buy a car that works "on average"? Hell, no! you expect this here car that you paid 20 grand for to 0-60 in 5 seconds, not 20 and not 365!

Re:Easy Peasy (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 3 years ago | (#36539468)

Average for an area would be good.

The best would be the mode, i.e., the speed that customers are most likely to see. The median would also be good. They're also not that easy to scam (except by outright lying, which it's a bit too easy to be caught in).

Re:Easy Peasy (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535966)

And technically speaking the minimum mpg for a car is zero (or perhaps undefined) since cars can have breakdowns, and failing to perform regular maintenance will screw over your average as well. Yet somehow we manage to have at least somewhat useful guidelines on what the mileage is for cars. There is some base level of minimum competency that even the government can and has met in the past. I think it's pretty silly to assume that they're going to get tripped up by something that obvious.

Re:Easy Peasy (1)

screwzloos (1942336) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536112)

The EPA estimated city and highway mileage rates aren't referred to as the minimum, though. If there was legislation to require car manufacturers to publish their "guaranteed minimum" mileage, that would have to be zero as well. "Average driving conditions" isn't the same black and white rule set this poorly written bill is referring to.

Re:Easy Peasy (1)

screwzloos (1942336) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536012)

+1.

None of the land line ISPs could guarantee that their connection speeds would always be greater than 0 either, and cable/fiber is a lot more dependable than wireless. Even at five nines any claim other than 0 would be false. Legislation like this is totally inane.

In my own little cynical version of reality I hope this bill passes and all of the providers put 0 bits per second as the minimum data rate on all of their phones, just to poke fun at the bureaucratic world we live in.

Re:Easy Peasy (1)

nzac (1822298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536122)

You know what she means and so does she. There will be someone at some stage in making this law that will know the correct term to replace just 'minimum' with (I would think something like minimum average sustained download speed would be better).

What she does fail to account for is the speed drop when SNR to the tower is low or the channel crap negatively effecting the speed that makes this bill hard to give meaningful figures.

If you averaged the average minimum speed across all costumers in an area I would think you would get a useful metric with a significant margin or error though.

Re:Easy Peasy (1)

Dutchmaan (442553) | more than 3 years ago | (#36537126)

How about minimum average dowload speed given normal conditions over the period of say a month...

Re:Easy Peasy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36537134)

On the other hand, the carriers and cell phone manufacturers are going to tend to publish the theoretical maximum speeds of their networks, which will be speeds that no one actually gets. They'll advertise 50Mbps and everyone will get 3Mbps. There won't be a good-faith attempt to accurately describe the real speed that users can expect to get unless it's enforced by law somehow.

Re:Easy Peasy (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36537146)

Anna Eshoo is probably more technically competent than you are legally competent.

If you actually look at the proposed legislation, it defines minimum speed at follows:

"The guaranteed minimum transmit and receive data rates for Internet protocol packets to and from on-network hosts for the service, expressed in megabits per second. For purposes of the preceding sentence, a minimum data rate is not guaranteed unless it is available for a percentage of the time in a calendar month to be established by the Commission."

As you can see, the bill is only talking about rates for hosts on the network. If you are in a dead spot, you are not connected to the network and do not figure into the calculations.

Re:Easy Peasy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36537968)

Really? American politicians may be corrupt and incompetent, but they're not incapable of thinking

Re:Easy Peasy (1)

joe_frisch (1366229) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538524)

You could define a standard for "minimum" speed. Say bottom 10th percentile speed for connected devices in their "service" range. The government could monitor this directly, or much better, could provide an app that people could (voluntarily) load onto their phones that would occasionally measure the bandwidth. If it providers bandwidth maps of the area I bet a lot of people would be happy to use it.

Its not perfect, but it is much better than the present system where speeds are essentially a guaranteed MAXIMUM, with absolutely no promise of what performance you will see. Sort of like saying that your care will get "up to 100 mpg" (though that will only be reached if it is in idle rolling down a steep hill).

A greater concern is (0)

ideaz (1981092) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535736)

segregating the data plan from tethering plan... Please, this needs a bill more than anything!

Explain this.. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36535766)

Why shouldn't this be regulated under the category of "fair business practice?"
In California, some businesses are already certified through uniform weights and measurement requirements for their products.
(bottom line, let the customer make an informed and accurate/measurable decision based on validated information, instead of hype)

I'm sure the telco trolls will throw every lame excuse they can muster to discredit the intent of the proposed legislation.

I'd rather see (2)

FunkSoulBrother (140893) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535772)

I'd rather see them have to include the bandwidth cap on the plan, paired with how much use at max speed per day this allows you. People should be able to see that 2GB = 64 MB / day = however quick that phone/4G plan can suck down 64MB

Re:I'd rather see (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536726)

Fair advertising would label that as 6kbps with 56Mbps/1Mbps burst (if the link is 56Mb up 1MB down, 2GB monthly cap).

Latency, anyone? (1)

cos(0) (455098) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535794)

I know I'm in the minority, but I'd rather see an advertisement for low latency than high speed. Tethering my phone to my laptop and using SSH over Sprint's 3G is an experience I wish to avoid. (Ironically, 1RTTX seems to have lower latency than 3G.)

Re:Latency, anyone? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535828)

Even for ssh?
I have had no problems using ssh with 500ms of latency. Annoying, but not a real hindrance to getting work done.

ok... (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#36535988)

Sounds great! Why aren't WIRED carriers included?

Re:ok... (1)

jaskelling (1927116) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536074)

Sounds great! Why aren't WIRED carriers included?

Um...because TFA and the bill are talking specifically about 4G wireless networks, not your home provider.

Consumer Protection? (1)

GuruBuckaroo (833982) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536016)

This sounds like the perfect thing for a Consumer Protection agency to do. Kind of like the one currently running headless because Republicans are blocking the confirmation of it's head (along with a whole lot of other nominations).

rly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536078)

we need a fscking bill for this?! c'mon people...

A new fee opportunity! (1)

jaskelling (1927116) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536132)

Prepare to see "We have enacted a $1.99 monthly fee to allow us to comply with the disclosure and metering requirements in the "2011 Data Speeds Act" from the FCC.

"Introducing: 5G!" (1)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536192)

Do they even have a definition for 4G yet? Er, one that anyone implements, that is? Certainly the term was introduced before it had any meaning, so if the government tries to regulate the term, I can only assume that we'd see the introduction of newer, vaguer-but-cooler-sounding terms the next day. 5G would be the obvious choice. What is 5G? A lot like 4G, but without those pesky speed guarantees, and with more shiny, happy advertisements attached. Look, shiny!

Re:"Introducing: 5G!" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536298)

No... the term was introduces a while ago as a set standard that current "4G"s don't come close to matching (100mbsp down). The standards body finally caved after all the cell phone companies started using the term, much to their disapproval

Re:"Introducing: 5G!" (1)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536484)

The term was introduced before it became a standard. To be specific, Sprint started advertising 4G systems in late 2008, and other vendors soon followed, but the standard itself wasn't settled till 2009/2010. Yes, everyone knew approximately what the standard would be (and the vendors knew their systems wouldn't meet the standard once it was finalized), but that doesn't change the fact that 4G was a marketing term before it was a standard.

You seem to be suggesting that what eventually became the standard was changed because of the vendors' pre-emptive actions. That's quite possibly true, although I missed it, but the standard didn't actually exist at that time, and a standard that isn't a standard...isn't a standard. Even if it's a widely-agreed-upon draft.

what top 10? (1)

Virtucon (127420) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536406)

There's four main carriers and a few small market players. Are they talking about including the mobile virtual network operators like Virgin and Boost?

Re:what top 10? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36538500)

Well, until last year, the national carriers faced serious competition around here from a regional outfit called Centennial. Of course, AT&T bought them out, and I assume the same sort of thing will happen/is happening/has happened elsewhere, but at least 5 years ago, I'm sure there were well over 10 non-virtual carriers.

Are there 10 carriers left? (3, Insightful)

krishkrish (1964062) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536414)

Are there 10 carriers left in a given market?

If they would have not allowed the mega mergers no body would need such list. Competition would have made sure that they beat each other,

Re:Are there 10 carriers left? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36537416)

I don't think there are. At least around here we've only got 4 carriers if you exclude the carriers which are owned by one of the major carriers, and that's assuming that the AT&T T-Mobile merger doesn't complete.

Re:Are there 10 carriers left? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36541084)

Be careful not to mistake a multitude of providers with competition. A monopoly is a a location(or set of potential customers) which no one else can offer a similar competing service. This means a ton of companies can exist, lobby the government for utility rights and have exclusive access to some geographical area within a city, state or country. This is how it works with ISPs in particular, at least in the major US cities I've studied. Overlap exists, but not significantly.

I'm happy with 3G speeds (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536490)

Please kill the ridiculous data pricing plans, and for fuck's sake, don't charge me extra for tethering if I'm already paying for each bit!

Re:I'm happy with 3G speeds (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36536592)

If you set your phone not to decrement the TTL for outbound packets from a tethered device, there's no way they can tell short of DPI. Either you win outright, or you find out they're using DPI and can raise a stink about it.

Not like you get that speed anyway (1)

bobjr94 (1120555) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536554)

* Your actual speed may be slower due to network conditions, phone and hardware, signal strength and other factors

With current caps (2)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36536620)

You can exceed your limit on most any 'tiered' data plan pretty easily now, so does speed ratings really matter all that much?

Re:With current caps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36537272)

Hell yes it matters. I don't want my cell phone's data connection to be faster so I can download more bigger things. I want it to be fast so that the small things I download arrive quicker.

Sorry if this doesn't conform to the Slashdot "I want to be able to use 100% of the advertised bandwidth 24/7" mindset.

Re:With current caps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36538580)

Hell yes it matters. I don't want my cell phone's data connection to be faster so I can download more bigger things. I want it to be fast so that the small things I download arrive quicker.

Then, given the current state of mobile data connections, you don't even care about more bandwidth, you care about less latency.

Which, of course, nobody is doing anything about.

Re:With current caps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36539202)

I've often wondered why ISPs are so determined to have the highest MBPS to their customers, when they cap how much a customer can transfer in a month.
I mean, do you really care that you have 200MBPS when you only have a 5Gig cap per month? Maybe now people will start selecting the SLOWEST transfer rates, just to make their quota last.

what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36537240)

what bill. who's this bill? bill murray will force the carriers (air craft carriers?) to publish 4G (didn't we just get to 3D?) data speeds ON HIS OWN?!

Increased paperwork for telecoms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36537408)

This is going to result in additional fees or increase in tariffs just to be compliant with the bill. Just let the market forces manage this. They would be better served if they specify the density of towers

Bill Would Make Carriers Publish 4G Data Speeds (1)

Tooke (1961582) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538284)

For a second there I thought Mr. Gates was explaining what he'd do if he were in charge....

TLDR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36538382)

But, this bill fella seems like he has some moxie.

Priority's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36538492)

So glad congress passed a budget, passed a plan to reduce of huge amount of debt the US had accrued, and fixed Medicare and Social Security, that they now have time to fix this pressing issue.

Re:Priority's (1)

Phydeaux314 (866996) | more than 3 years ago | (#36538654)

Fine, I'll feed the troll. If they announced they that weren't working on these sorts of problems because solving the national debt, medicare, and social security were bigger issues that needed to be dealt with first, you would accuse them of being unable to multitask. They can't win.

And never mind that the issues are all incredibly different in scope, involving different agencies and compromises.

Re:Priority's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36539728)

Never mind that this isn't the job of congress, but the budget is

used wrong term (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36539928)

I'm sure what the rep actually wanted to be reported on is the maximum theoretical speeds. The problem and debate all along has been about all the different cell phones advertising as "4G data speeds" and "fastest downloads". While these services may be their service's 4th generation of data technology (4G), it is NOT true 4G. True 4G is about 4 times faster than anything on the market for cellular data at the moment. I know that AT&T/T-Mobile have reach ~22mbps, and last I saw Verizon and Sprint reached ~17-18mbps as theoretical maximums, although realistic use is not even close to that.
It's basically like the estimated miles per gallon on car window stickers at the dealership. Yes, that new hybrid car can get 55mpg on the highway under completely optimal conditions with the exact right gas the moment it comes off the lot, but realistically you are only going to get about 80% of that in real world use.

Limited to 4G? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36540002)

Limited only to 4G?
Now introducing AT&T's new 5G data speeds...much better than 4G...Trust us.

Re:Limited to 4G? (1)

lrobert98 (1936734) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541102)

AT&T 5G Network: It's one faster!

A better set of data (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#36540232)

I would think that the best set of data would be:
  1. 1. Maximum Speed
  2. 2. Average Speed
  3. 3. Average sustained speed (for large transfers)
  4. 4. Average latency

I would also like to see some consumer protection and recourse for the customer who falls well below the averages, lets say 1 standard deviation, since they are not getting what they are paying for. This will never happen because this data would actually help the consumer and create a more free and open market for competition since large corporations prefer to have uninformed consumers.

Thank God. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36541114)

  I don't know what I would do without government dictating everything for me.

Classic government stupidity (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | more than 3 years ago | (#36541126)

Clearly this guy knows as much about wireless technology as do the lawmakers demanding higher fuel economy without knowing if it's even possible. What's he going to do when people whine that they're not getting the posted data rates because Lulzsec fired a denial-of-service attack? Simple answer: class-action lawsuit followed by more government regulation. In other words, the lawyers will be getting rich and the consumers will be getting coupons for discounts on phone accessories.

I can answer this one (1)

Wireless Joe (604314) | more than 3 years ago | (#36545054)

"provide consumers with information on the minimum data speeds for their 4G networks"

The minimum is 0kbps.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?
or Connect with...

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>