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The FCC Says ISPs Aren't Hitting Advertised Speeds

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the stop-dropping-my-packets dept.

Networking 228

MojoKid writes "The Federal Communications Commission has released the results of a year-long scientific study it conducted with regard to the upload and download speeds of thirteen American Internet service providers. Most of the ISPs hit 90 percent of their advertised upload speeds. Of the 13 providers tested, only four (or less than a third) averaged at or even above their advertised download speeds (Charter, Comcast, Cox, and Verizon Fiber). The tests were performed by a private firm that has run similar tests in the U.K. It measured performance at 6,800 'representative homes' nationally in March."

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Wait (-1, Troll)

zget (2395308) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094046)

But weren't Comcast and Verizon evil?

Re:Wait (4, Funny)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094126)

Verizon is evil in implementation of their contracts. They have good technology with outstanding network reliability. However, their policies and their hip-hop rapping store staff can suck it!

Comcast OTOH has good technology and a nice network too. They're pricey, but well worth the service IMHO. They customer service in India can suck my left nut, and those sub-contracted repair service men need to stay the hell away from my beer and peanut. But most importantly, they need to fix the problem the FIRST TIME AROUND. You here that Comcast, get your damn men to fix the problem. Your repeat truck-rolls are costing me time from work (to meet them) and you as well.

Re:Wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094906)

The only I got out from reading your post is your left nut.

Re:Wait (4, Funny)

teflaime (738532) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094156)

They still are. They just hide their packet shaping from burst speed tests pretty well.

Re:Wait (1)

bhcompy (1877290) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095006)

I have no problem with FIOS. I sustain very fast download speeds(and upload, for that matter). Reaching 25mbit is no problem(I have a 25/25 plan). Reaching past it isn't either. In fact, it's the best internet service I've ever had. Only service I'd put on par with it was MediaOne

Re:Wait (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094204)

With Comcast, " averaged at or even above their advertised download speeds" means they sustained advertised speeds for all of 60 seconds -- right up until PowerBoost switched off.

Re:Wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094388)

I have never had my comcast connection do better that 50% of advertised, even through the "marketingboost" first minute. Most of the people I know also have comcast and have observed the same. This study seems rather suspect.

Re:Wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094524)

I guess it depends on area/signal. I have Comcast's 12Mb plan and I always get 1.2 to 1.5MB down (avg ~1.4MB, max 2MB). I usually max out while torrenting, but that's with encryption turned on. If you're lucky you'll be able to squeeze another 5-10Mb/s with a D3-capable modem.

Re:Wait (2)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094266)

Aye, but there's also something this doesn't cover - region. Many of these companies perform differently if you use their service in different cities.

Where I live, you can regularly expect AT&T DSL to give you about +10% of advertised speed, and we have Wide Open West, which is good (but not listed there). The Insight and Time Warner list there probably overestimate the quality of service here where I live. Actually, since Insight (at least here) uses the TimeWarner infrastructure, it doesn't surprise me at all that they show so similar.

However, if we conversely go to a friend in another city, her Time Warner acually does meet advertised peak speed, and does so fairly regularly, but equally regularly goes down to DSL speeds.

The charts that are listed on the TFA are useless except on a per-city basis.

Re:Wait (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094514)

I would love it if we got a real study, one with some depth, where they went around and tested every ISP during peak hours at several locations in their service area. I have a feeling that if they did that we'd see a much different story than this quasi-fluff piece...

Re:Wait (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094620)

I'd agree with your statement if it weren't for the "quasi". That spoiled it for me.

Re:Wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094822)

How is this report any better than the thousands of self tests done by real people at dslreport.com?

https://secure.dslreports.com/archive

Re:Wait (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094520)

Columbus area? I inquired via email when Insight was going DOCSIS 3 (like Time Warner already did in the downtown area from what I read) and about getting a replacement for my Moto DVR. I got directed to Sales and they seemed to ignore the network inquiry.

Re:Wait (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094594)

stop stalking me please. I'm creeped out now :-P

(and, yes, Columbus)

Warning: calling WoW "expensive" is a bit of an understatement. Worth it to me, but maybe not to others...

Re:Wait (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094754)

I think Insight in Central Ohio is the only division of Insight that uses Time Warner... and the only division of Insight that seems to be falling behind (tech wise). ;)

No stalking needed on that one.

Re:Wait (1)

NetNed (955141) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094846)

DSL from AT&T here are very quirky. A buddy has one that gets close to 20% better then advertised, yet a business I do support for that is a half mile away struggles to get 50% of the listed speeds. Funny thing is that the business is susposedly closer to the telco then my buddy. I know there are many factors, but AT&T has supposedly "tested" all the lines and says its' all "ok". I always take that with a large grain of salt, because I have found AT&T likes to find a excuse and stick to it till you prove them wrong. It usually takes threats of dropping service to get them to actually do something, much like when their equipment goes bad and they want you to pay $80 for a cheesy DSL modem.

Re:Wait (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094920)

Indeed. My provider is Metrocast Cable (out of New Jersey, but I am up here in Connecticut where they picked up a small cable company) and they have been upping the download rates fairly steadily (every 1-2 years we get another 1-2 Mbit.)

Often we will get the rate bump 3 to 6 months prior to them making it an official offering.

Also, they dont cap or throttle anything.

Re:Wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094860)

Yes Comcast is evil, I work in a Business Park and pay for their 20/5 service. When the Interenet connection is working I get 50/20. the other 40% of the time I get about 3/10 and right now I have about .15/10 ( thats point one five). Comcast has been out at least 7 times, and has been unable to resolve the slowness, I've replaced the modem and the cable from the demark to my wiring closet. The main problem is, their department don't talk to each other, and they keep no record of previous visits, the outside guy comes along and blames the inside wiring, and the inside guy blames the outside. They have to start over from scratch everytime I call in. They also never tell me what they thing the issue is, other than temporary problems. the inside guys i've worked with have been descent, although some young and a little unexperianced. The outside guys seem to be lazy loafers that care very little about the quality of their work. I am an IT Manager and I would fire them very quickly if they showed such incompetence and lackadaisical interest in their work. Even more, this morning I waited 20 minutes before I was able to speak to a phone rep., which is unexeceptable for a commercial account. I have to put the call on speaker phone so that I can continue with my work, and their system constantly changes from a whisper to blairing out commercial ads trying to sell me service, which I already have and that I'm currently having problems with. I'm about fed up. The Bells cost a whole lot more, but the service of the worst one is far better than comcast.

Way Past it on FiOS (4, Informative)

Ksevio (865461) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094074)

On my Verizon FiOS connection, I can regularly hit 25mbps on my 15/5 line for file downloads and speed tests.

I'm willing to bet that if I kept that up for extended periods it would drop down a lot, but it's fine for quickly downloading a Steam game once a month.

Re:Way Past it on FiOS (1)

Skyshroudelf (2031210) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094226)

That is what I get over wireless with my Verizon FiOS, when I am wired I get 35-40 mbps down, and about 30 up.

Re:Way Past it on FiOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094248)

I'm willing to bet your own wonky sized buffers are causing whatever program you're seeing those speeds in to report incorrectly for non-extended periods.

Buy the "light" plan (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094406)

There is much less incentive to throttle a 1Mbps link than a 10Mbps link. Sure, you've only got 1Mpbs, but at the same time, you've always got 1Mpbs. While your neighbors are pulling their hair out because they can only get 3Mbps out of a supposedly 10Mbps link, you're patting yourself on the back for getting exactly what you paid for.

In fact, I would bet that the more you pay, the more you will be ripped off, due simply to the amount of headroom they have to play with.

Re:Way Past it on FiOS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094824)

I consistently get 50Mbps down and 35Mbps up on my fios connection (rated at 35/35). I average about 110GB/month from usenet (peaked at 746GB in 12/2009) plus whatever else I move across my vpn connection for work and whatever my kids manage to use on youtube/facebook/etc. I have never noticed any performance issue with my connection during any kind of "peak" hours other than youtube sucks in the afternoons. Regular speed tests (e.g. downloading from other sites) show the problem is with youtube and not my connections, though.

To be fair, I used to have BrightHouse roadrunner at this location and I consistently outperformed the rated speeds with them as well. There was a noticeable dip at "prime" hours with brightouse but even then the connection never went below the rated speed. Interestingly, youtube performed much better; I assume youtube has some kind of mirror server on the brighthouse network.

Sync vs Useful rates (2)

DeHackEd (159723) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094110)

I know DSL, being an ATM-based technology and often subjected to PPPoE overhead, will score lower than rated. I have a 5 megabit connection but that's the sync rate. You can realistically expect to lose 9-10% just from the above overheads. That rather fits with the graphs I'm seeing.

I've seen some ISPs compensate by setting the sync rate above the advertised rate but most don't.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094178)

That's all fine and well for techies who understand how it all works, but what about Mr. and Mrs. John Q public who want what they are paying for?

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094322)

Yeah it's like a car (what other analogy should I use?) being advertised as capable of doing 500mph except when you read the fine print or complain a techie comes out to explain that those tests were actually done in a vacuum and there's this little thing called wind resistance that limits the practical speed of your car to 100mph.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094362)

Yeah it's like a car (what other analogy should I use?) being advertised as capable of doing 500mph except when you read the fine print or complain a techie comes out to explain that those tests were actually done in a vacuum and there's this little thing called wind resistance that limits the practical speed of your car to 100mph.

A car company would be sued for advertising the 500mph rate. They'd either have to advertise something abstract (like horsepower) or advertise the 100MPH governed rate.

Why can Internet service providers get away with crap like this?

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094414)

Why can Internet service providers get away with crap like this?

Here in America we have this little thing called "campaign contributions"...plus, you know, all these corporations are "people" so their speech is protected.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37095098)

Ahh, so the meaning of the words "up to" escape you... or you just figure you can read any old thing you want into advertising and it's not your fault if you're wrong... I get it. It's the corporations! That's why you're retarded!

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094482)

No, it's more like a car being advertised as having a 200 hp engine, even though drivetrain losses result in only 170 wheel hp.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

kaizendojo (956951) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094484)

I think a better analogy is that the car is advertised with a top speed of 120MPH, but traffic conditions (other users) and speed limits (available bandwidth at any given time) don't guarantee the ability to reach those speeds.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094966)

The even better car analogy is they advertise the car with a top speed of 65mph at red line, but that's with 19" rims, and the car only comes with 17" rims... and you can't change them.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (5, Insightful)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094324)

Mr. and Mrs. John Q Public seem to have gotten used to their cereal box being half-full because of settling during shipment.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094450)

Wish I could mod you up...

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

frozentier (1542099) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094554)

It's not a matter of just being ok with it, it's a matter of not being able to do anything about it. Where I live, your choices are Time Warner or dial-up. No matter how bad Time Warner can be (although it hasn't been that bad for me), there's no other game in town. They own the only infrastructure we have.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094698)

If the cereal was sold by volume rather than mass, you might have a point there.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094808)

Why do you think cereal is sold by mass rather than by volume?

Answer: because people complained that their cereal box was half empty. Then the company said, "Well, our machines fill the boxes by weight, not volume. It's unavoidable." Mr. and Mrs. Joe Q Public said, "Oh, it's unavoidable you say? Okie dokie then."

If anything, it's the technically-minded people who'll try to force the company to figure out a way of supplying the full amount that they think the company promised to sell them, not Mr. and Mrs. Joe Q Public. Mr. and Mrs. Joe Q Public will get used to whatever they're getting, as long as it's more or less consistent.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094898)

Why do you think cereal is sold by mass rather than by volume?

Because it says so on the box? Because the nutrition is in the mass, not the air?

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095290)

Because it says so on the box?

Everything on the box is there for one of two reasons: their marketing department told them to put it there or their legal department told them to put it there. I'll let you figure out which applies here.

Because the nutrition is in the mass, not the air?

People don't normally weigh the serving of cereal when they pour themselves a bowl. Typically, the nutrition facts are stated relative to a serving size given in cups. The weight is put in parentheses as an afterthought. At least, in the US that's typically the case.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094902)

Making sure that the boxes are mostly full when they leave the warehouse is easy enough, the problem is that cereal can and does settle during shipment. It's also a lot harder for the manufacturer to cheat customers when they're selling a weight rather than a volume. Trying to determine when they were cheating the customer would be a real pain otherwise.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

MrAngryForNoReason (711935) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095246)

The bags inside cereal boxes are intentionally only part filled, the same as crisps (potato chips) and anything else that is packed in a plastic heat sealed bag. The reason for this isn't to con you by only filling it part way, it is so that when the bag is heat sealed there is a decent gap at the top. If the bags are filled too full then the contents can be close enough to interfere with the heat sealing, resulting in the bag not being air-tight and the contents going off.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095392)

Ok, this analogy has officially been over-extended. The point I was originally trying to make by it was, more or less, that if you tell Joe Public "there's nothing we can do, this is what you get, get used to it", he generally will. A technical user will respond with "but why is that the best you can do", and if there's a good enough answer, he'll generally get used to it too.

The DSL PPPoE overhead is one of those things that just is. It's unavoidable, just as unavoidable as cereal settling during shipping, and people will get used to it. Technical users may lobby for better statistics that allow for comparing DSL and cable on an equal playing field, but that's really beside the point, because it's just a conversion factor. If the DSL companies need to put an asterisk behind the connection speed they claim to provide, I'm sure their lawyers will be able to come up with a disclaimer that indicates they're not factoring in the PPPoE overhead into their claim.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094758)

Fortunately, the boxes are sold by weight, not volume, so this is a specious comparison.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094802)

Mr. and Mrs. John Q Public seem to have gotten used to their cereal box being half-full because of settling during shipment.

Cereal is sold by weight, not by volume.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094868)

And DSL is sold by bandwidth with PPPoE overhead included, not by useable bandwidth after PPPoE overhead is subtracted.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094874)

Which is fine.

Cereal boxes are sold by weight and not volume, there is thus no deception. After all, you can't make mass magically disappear, with the laws of physics and all. They don't even pretend to sell you more than what you're actually getting. They set it by pounds and ounces and you get exactly what you were entitled to expect.

Internet bandwidth however is different.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094998)

Cereal may be sold by weight, but it is consumed by volume. Different cereals have wildly differing densities (e.g. Grape-Nuts vs. Rice Krispies), so the weight of a cereal box is not really a good indicator of how many bowls of cereal the box contains. The consumer's impression of how much cereal they're getting is still going to be based on the size of the box.

Packaging exactly the same amount of cereal in a larger box is still deceptive even if its weight is listed. Perhaps not illegal, but deceptive. One of the selling points of companies that sell cereal in bags (not in boxes) is that you can see exactly what you're getting. And they seem to typically manage to get the bags reasonably full, too.

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (2)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094194)

Yes, DSL tends to take a hit from various types of overhead. It's been a while since I dealt with it on a daily basis but I believe that a regular g.dmt connection (8/0.8 Mbps) loses around 15% from overhead when using Ethernet over ATM and TCP. So you'll never see more than 5.9 Mbps or so downstream with TCP...

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

Nanosphere (1867972) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094476)

I'm lucky if I even get 800Kbps over DSL. I tried upgrading to a faster speed but then my connection would drop for 5-10 minutes every hour. Verizons response, I'm too far away. I live in a well known highly populated Florida suburb, WTF?

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

Burdell (228580) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094500)

I work for an independent ISP that wholesales BellSouth (AT&T) DSL service. When we order a 6m down/512k up circuit, the sync rates are up to 8128k down and 512k up. I guess that's because most end users still primarily care about the download speed (as long as Netflix works they're happy I suppose).

Re:Sync vs Useful rates (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094918)

Qwest gives the same amount of bandwidth up whether regardless of what plan you're on. Which is good to know now if I want to downgrade.

Apparently slashdot's ISP is one of the slow ones (2)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094174)

Apparently the ISP that supplies /. [slashdot.org] is one of the slow ones.

Charter? (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094192)

I'd like to know where they tested Charter at. If you're in a relatively sparse area they're great, but here in Madison, WI, they fucking suck. I have "21 meg" or some shit and at most I pull down between 2 and 5. Between the hours of 5 and 7 or 8 o'clock in the evening, it's damn near unusable because everybody in the city comes home and starts streaming Hulu and Netflix and I'll be lucky to pull down 700k, and the latency spikes like you wouldn't believe. The techs themselves tell me never to expect to hit the speeds I'm told I'll get, because that's not "real-world use."

So if I'm never going to get that speed in practical application, why again are they allowed to advertise said speed?

Re:Charter? (1)

Covener (32114) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094262)

I'd like to know where they tested Charter at. If you're in a relatively sparse area they're great, but here in Madison, WI, they fucking suck. I have "21 meg" or some shit and at most I pull down between 2 and 5. Between the hours of 5 and 7 or 8 o'clock in the evening, it's damn near unusable because everybody in the city comes home and starts streaming Hulu and Netflix and I'll be lucky to pull down 700k, and the latency spikes like you wouldn't believe. The techs themselves tell me never to expect to hit the speeds I'm told I'll get, because that's not "real-world use."

So if I'm never going to get that speed in practical application, why again are they allowed to advertise said speed?

Sounds pretty likely by the ambiguous units in your post that your expectations are inflated by a factor of 8 because you're misunderstand the units of what's advertised vs. the units in what you're observing.

Re:Charter? (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094394)

I'm told I get 21 meg (mbps, megabits per second, kinda figured that was understood, since that's the units everyone uses, including Charter). Never in my life, hardlined, have I gotten that speed, on multiple speed tests, including Charter's own. Not even the burst speeds get close.

The speed tests are also in units of megabits per second. I know the difference between a bit and byte.

Re:Charter? (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095096)

In central WI, I'm getting 19mbps on my 18mbps Charter connection. Even during peak.

Their back-bone infrastructure is quite good, so I would assume it's an overloaded node. You guys DOCSIS3.0 yet down there in Mad town?

Also, check into their business packages. I've heard in other forums that business connection take different routes than residential and you get nearly no jitter at all.

Re:Charter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094516)

I'm in Madison as well and use Charter. Even with my comp streaming Netflix while my GF is playing WoW, I nearly always get the advertised speed. In fact it's the best internet service I've ever had. When I lived in Illinois I had Comcast and was lucky to get half of their claimed speeds. AT&T was only slightly better. Charter's customer service on the other hand...yikes.

Re:Charter? (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094618)

Wow, I need to move to your neighborhood. The west side where I'm at near the mall, according to the techs (off the record, of course) this node is "over-saturated" or something, and it's a problem that Charter knows about, but it's going to cost them quite a bit to upgrade the equipment to handle the demand so they're dragging their feet.

Basically, according to the tech (they've been known to talk out of their ass, too, so who knows, not like you'll get a straight answer from anybody, really) it's kinda like the recall scenario described by Ed Norton in Fight Club...until it costs Charter more in service calls due to problems with internet speeds and connectivity then it will to upgrade their equipment, they're not upgrading, so I'm pretty much screwed until Netflix stops working for a ton of people, more or less.

Re:Charter? (2)

garcia (6573) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094564)

I live in a major metropolitan area (MSP) and I have business class from Charter. I am usually at 125 to 150% of my downstream and 100% of my upstream.

Sorry it sucks for you. I've been there with many different carriers over the years (Verizon DSL, RR, ATTBI, Frontier DSL to name a few) and Charter is the most solid, fastest, and definitely has the best customer response (I only contact them via Twitter) that I have ever had before.

Granted I have business class and that may make a difference so YMMV.

Re:Charter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37095032)

Agree with this. I have been pleasantly surprised with Charter in the Athens, GA area. I've lived in two different homes in the area, and both had speeds well in excess of advertised. (Downstream anyway...upstream is pretty slow, but consistent). I'd used DSL (AT&T/BellSouth, Earthlink, you name it) for years until I made this switch. I would never go back.

DUH... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094214)

I have NEVER gotten the 'upto' speed that any isp has ever sold me.

At least the crapcast i have now is sort of stable and about 3/4ths what i'm supposedly paying for.
But they drop connections at random. p2p... non p2p.. whatever. random.

And it's not cheap either.

So thanks crapcast for only sorta screwing me over and mostly ripping me off.

Re:DUH... (5, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094336)

You should send them $5 and say that you are now paying your internet bill "up to" the stated amount...

Protocol overhead (2)

shoppa (464619) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094218)

Geeze... going back in time... a 1.5 Mbit T1 connection, while actually a continuous 1.5 Mbit connection, never quite delivered that much speed when it was hooked to "the internet" and expected to move TCP/IP traffic. Same for 10 Mbit Ethernet (and that was never a true bidirectional 10 Mbits to begin with).

Protocol overhead always nibbles away at the edges.

Re:Protocol overhead (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094952)

Yes, but unless the ISP is hiring incompetent engineers, they should have enough of a grasp on the amounts that they can get pretty damn close to the amount that they can actually provide. This would change very quickly if ISPs were held accountable for false and misleading advertisements.

As much by region as by ISP (2)

NameIsDavid (945872) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094254)

Although I'm only one datapoint, my Optimum Boost (Cablevision) service north of NYC almost always hits the 50d/8u Mbps that I'm paying for ($15 over base service for the higher speeds). When I've had issues, they've always been catastrophic ones (no signal due to bad connector on the utility pole, etc.) rather than just slowdowns.

Re:As much by region as by ISP (1)

NiteShaed (315799) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095094)

Lucky you. I'm north of NYC as well, and with Boost I get around 15-20 down (22 is the highest I've ever seen). I switched to boost after several solid months of Optimum clocking in around .5 - 2 down (up has never been a problem).

Oh, OK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094298)

Hardware once again gets slammed for not being as advertised, meanwhile the software jerks can pump out bloated buggy code all day long and they're "craftspeople".

What I don't understand... (1)

Jon Abbott (723) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094344)

When I visit speedtest.net, I get faster speeds to Fiber Internet Center in Palo Alto, CA (21 Mbps down) than I get from Comcast in Denver, CO (9 Mbps down), even though I live within 30 miles of Denver and use Comcast for my 12 Mbps high speed internet connection. Anyone able to explain that one?

Re:What I don't understand... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094542)

The types of routers and bridges that are between you and the denver source site versus those between you and CA. Differences in MTU, encapsulation, routing trees, packet-storms, number of people running speedtest at the same time. Take your pick.

Frontier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094350)

In the NW where Frontier bought the Verizon service I've done speed tests and on my "15/5" I have been getting 2.5/2 at maximum speeds since the switch. Note that the speeds are still advertised as 15/5 as opposed to something lower. I've run these tests over a years time period on a weekly basis. *shrug*

Qwest in PHX (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094376)

Well, I don't hit the advertised speeds. I am provisioned at 7mb down and 896k up. On a good day I get 6mb down but the upstream seems fairly consistent. However, this is a lot better than the leading cable company, Cox. Cox was a nightmare to deal with so I'll gladly put up with Qwest because I have no other choice. At least Qwest is less evil and doesn't engage in port blocking and require you to buy a small business package for a static IP to stop port blocking.

Re:Qwest in PHX (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094996)

That was my reasoning for going with Qwest. I'm not surprised that they're at the bottom of giving what they're advertising. But, they don't block ports and they don't have caps, so I'm largely stuck with them. Comcast was complete crap back when they provided our internet. Every single time that somebody would buy rights to provide our cable modem service the service got worse. By the time that Comcrap got a hold of it things got to the point where it would be out 3-4 hours literally every day.

Qwest at least has been able to keep the connection on constantly since we switched to DSL. If it's ever been off at any time it hasn't been long enough to notice.

I get exactly whats advertised. (2, Informative)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094418)

I have an "Up To 12 Mb" connection through my local cable company. I get exactly that. Somewhere between nothing and 12 Mb. I certainly never get more than that. But given that they advertise it as a "you might get as much as X bandwidth", I don't see how you can say they aren't giving me what they promised.

Re:I get exactly whats advertised. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094866)

Yeah, but you understood the deal going in. It isn't a difficult concept when you have a basic understanding of the game, but most people don't even know there's a game to be played. To them, internet is a utility, like water or electricity or gas. They don't sign a contract saying they'll pay an outrageous sum of money each month for "between nothing and 100 gallons of water" at the utility's discretion. It is natural (wrong, but natural) to assume that if you're paying for a 15 Mbps line, you'll be able to achieve and maintain that rate for a reasonable percentage of time.

Even my brother, with his fancy pants degrees in electrical engineering and computer science, got screwed on his first home internet contract. Even reading and having what he thought was a decent understanding of the contract didn't prepare him for getting put over a barrel.

Re:I get exactly whats advertised. (1)

MrAngryForNoReason (711935) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095318)

They don't sign a contract saying they'll pay an outrageous sum of money each month for "between nothing and 100 gallons of water" at the utility's discretion.

Actually that is exactly what anyone who doesn't have metered water does. They pay a flat rate each month regardless of how much they use. Up to a top limit where the water company would investigate due to excessive usage.

Re:I get exactly whats advertised. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095036)

Because it's common practice for companies to include weasel words like that so that nobody can sue them, even when it's understood by everybody involved that they are in fact promising to provide the connection. By your logic, there's no need for an ISP promising to provide 5mbps for a 5mbps connection when they could just provide the same 1.5mbps connection that they provide to the folks on the 1.5mbps plan.

If they aren't able to provide the connection, they're still engaging in fraudulent advertising.

Re:I get exactly whats advertised. (2)

grimmjeeper (2301232) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095398)

I see your point. There should be some differentiation between a 5 and 1.5 mbps connection. And if there isn't, then you might have grounds for a suit.

However, one of the reasons ISPs put in the "up to" clause in their speed rating is that they are not in 100% control of your entire internet experience. They do supply the connection to your house and then on to "the internet". Once your connection goes out of their zone of influence, they have no control over it. Your traffic can be slowed through choke points completely out of the control of your ISP, not to mention trying to download from an overloaded server. (Slashdot effect [wikipedia.org] anyone?) Even if the third party server is on their own network, it can still be overloaded. The connection to the server can be just fine but if the server is slow, there's nothing they can do about it. You can have a 1.5mbps connection or an eleventy gazillion mbps connection but if the server is only dishing out data at 56kbps, that's all you're going to get.

I'm not trying to defend ISPs but there has to be some reason applied to the standards to which they are held. I don't think expecting them to always meet their "up to" speeds all the time for everyone is a reasonable standard. Though meeting 80% of advertised speed for the network is probably not a terrible starting point for the standard. And that should include the ISP's upstream connection. If they have oversold their upstream connection and it is the source of the restriction, they should be held to task for removing that bottleneck. But the one gaping hole in the standard is that no ISP can guarantee that any one particular connection to any one particular server will result in the desired speed. They just can't provide that kind of guarantee because it's ultimately something they just don't have control over.

False adv class action? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094422)

Now that we have long term wide spread data test can we start class action lawsuits about their speed claims?
IMO This should open each of the failing companys to lawsuits in each town they run ads in claiming servies they cant provide.

Location (1)

ndogg (158021) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094424)

I think location is more important than the company. I've worked for Charter before, and they do a fantastic job in some places, but not so great in others (especially new acquisitions.)

My mom has Charter, and her advertised speed is 8Mbps down and 1Mbps up, but whenever I run tests on her connections, it's consistently about twice that.

I have Time Warner where I live, and I usually get about 80% of of my average speed (15Mbps rated, 12Mbps tested.)

With that in mind, Charter is probably better at maintaining their networks, and upgrading them when they can than other providers.

Burst-Based shaping skews results (3, Insightful)

ZeroNullVoid (886675) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094456)

Most of the providers who hit their advertised speeds implement a burst-based traffic shaping.

For example, Comcast does full or over-full speed for first 10mb down and 5mb up.

It's nice that speedtest sites like speedtest.net show a graph of how speed changes, but their test sizes are still far to small and should exclude any detected burst speeds.

The only good way to test this is to actually transfer files and exclude the bursts.

Another thing that SHOULD be tested is the speed difference with single threaded transfers and segmented/multi-threaded transfers for both same continent and cross-seas.

Internet speed is relative and that is part of the problem.

Includes rushhour slowdown ? (2)

redelm (54142) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094540)

I _can_ hit wirespeed from my ISP (AT&T DSL), but only during off-peak hours. During rushhour (late afternoon, evening, esp Sunday), I'm lucky to get ~1/4 wirespeed.

I'm sure this is AT&T overselling their infrastructure (Uverse) and has choked the uplink fiber from my DSLAM. YMMV -- not everybody will be choked. But I doubt the FCC measured this congestion.

Up To (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094628)

That's why they like to list their speeds as "Up To". That way you can't really complain if you don't reach it. They advertise a maximum and don't even need to reach half of that for their statement to be true.

Re:Up To (1)

MrAngryForNoReason (711935) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095368)

That's why they like to list their speeds as "Up To".

Which for ADSL is pretty much the only way you can advertise it. The speed varies dramatically depending on how close to the exchange you are. Which is why most ADSL suppliers (in the UK at least) will have a way of checking before you sign up. Normally this is done by having you enter your postcode and then checking against a database of known speeds for that location. So before you sign up they can tell you roughly what speed you can actually expect in your area.

Comcast (4, Interesting)

guttentag (313541) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094644)

When I had issues with my Comcast cable internet connection, it was taking me about 5 minutes to load Google's home page, 10 minutes for the nytimes.com home page. Slashdot took about 7 minutes. I went to three different independent speed test sites, which each confirmed I was getting less than 5% of the bandwidth Comcast advertised. I called them up and they directed me to a flash animation that looked like an analog gauge of a car speeding up onto the freeway, overshooting the advertised bandwidth, wavering a bit to make it look like it was actually measuring something and leveling off at exactly the advertised bandwidth. I reloaded it a couple times, and each time it was the exact same animation. The rep then said, "can you read me what it says on the dial? Looks like your connection is working just fine. The sites you are trying to visit must not have enough bandwidth to handle the connection." I asked if she'd ever heard of a little company named Google, and she said they must be having network trouble on their end.

Re:Comcast (3, Insightful)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094836)

It'd be pretty amusing if that didn't even bother to check for an internet connection when it said you were getting the full connection speed. You should have unplugged the internet and tried reloading it from the cache.

I've got a different problem with ISPs (1)

MacGyver2210 (1053110) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094690)

Mine advertises 30Mbps and I routinely spike to 45Mbps, so I'm kind of on the other side of this coin. I have no idea how they get me so much speed out here in the country, but I'll take it.

Re:I've got a different problem with ISPs (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095134)

You're lucky, I'd kill to have even half of the stated bandwidth you're getting. Around here connections top out at 5mbps. And that's assuming that you're in a part of the city where Qwest feels that you deserve access to more than 1.5mbps connections. Centurylink took them over, so I'll have to see how they do in terms of fixing the problems.

I'm not optimistic as I've never received better service after a buyout.

qwest vs. comcast (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094702)

Just switched from comcast to qwest. Have to say that their bandwidth positively SUX. We even have 20 mb vs. the 12 that comcast advertises. And yet, this is slower than comcast. Sad. Real sad.

Hopefully, they have better uptime than comcast (comcast has so many outages; glad that I ran my own bind; their always had issues in their DNS).

Of course they aren't hitting their speeds (1)

IllusionalForce (1830532) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094748)

In a press conference this morning, 600 KB/s stated that "after months of being abused and hit, it's finally time to stop. We won't cooperate anymore until the ISPs stop hitting us." Soon afterwards, higher speeds also agreed with 600 KB/s and followed his example.

News at eleven.

charter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37094788)

wow....good for you charter!

Umm... (1)

tibit (1762298) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094828)

The FCC Says ISPs Aren't Hitting Advertised Speeds

An I'm, like, no shit, Sherlock? In other news, people get hurt in car crashes.

Re:Umm... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095196)

It's obvious to geeks, however this kind of thing is just a first step towards telling ISPs that they had better provide the bandwidth they're charging for. That is unless the GOP wins big in the next elections in which case it's back to dial up speeds for us.

What tests? (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 3 years ago | (#37094930)

Did they send a burst of nops over port 80 for 1 second on tuesday at 4am? Any details on the tests would be great. Without something specific about the tests the information is bullshit. Give us something useful like sustained side by side TCP and UDP data transfers over multiple ports for at least 350 days. Here is the results of my "data". Cable and dsl do not meet their advertised marks while fiber does. My data --> cuz_i_sed.txt.

Advertised speeds (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095034)

Every advertisement I've seen says "up to X," which means "anything X or below, but not above." So, 90% of that speed falls within the advertised spec.

Nothing to see here except more big anti-business crap from this administration.

Re:Advertised speeds (2)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095128)

The fact that they're making a "guarantee" that, in fact, guarantees nothing is in itself misleading. They're phrasing it as if it's a promise of something, when in fact it doesn't promise anything at all.

Re:Advertised speeds (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095298)

You don't understand. Big business has an exemption from having to comply with the law. Their CEOs have arranged for this through the Republican party.

So corporations ... (2)

Skapare (16644) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095166)

... cheat, steal, and lie. Old news. Move along.

Happy with Cox (1)

Perl-Pusher (555592) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095188)

5Mbs both ways, and their customer service has been excellent. I've had them for internet about 13 yrs now.

Isn't advertised speed usually maximum speed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37095206)

So, is it reasonable to expect -as the summary apparently does- for average speed to be equal or even close to maximum speed?

I'm in that FCC study, and here's what happened. (5, Interesting)

quixote9 (999874) | more than 3 years ago | (#37095310)

Before participation: Time Warner/Roadrunner here in Southern California gave me less than a tenth of advertised speeds. Officially 7mbits down, 1mb up, the actual service was more like 400kbits. Up to 800kb, sometimes even over a whole megabite early in the morning. (Exciting!) After the initial burst, which hit over a megabit down fairly often, there were times when it slowed all the way to single digits in KB.

Under the Sam Knows program, the FCC lets the ISPs know which subscribers are part of the test. (Bit of a problem right there, I'd say.) A few days before we had the government router hooked up, no doubt when Time Warner got word of our new "status," our speeds suddenly shot up into the advertised range. I nearly swooned the first time I saw a download go by at over a megabyte. And, interestingly enough, they've stayed there. It wasn't just some random thing. We don't usually get 7mb, but 5-6mb is the norm now.

So the info that ISPs aren't delivering stated speeds even in the FCC study is interesting, given that they seem to be jimmying the results for all they're worth.

(Speed tests before the FCC program would show us getting multi-megabits that we never saw in real life. Two things there: burst-shaping, no doubt, and I've heard that ISPs have ways of recognizing speed test traffic and giving it bandwidth.)
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