The Wall Street Journal has put out another fantastic piece questioning yet again the broadband industry’s claims about the speed. First, the WSJ rightfully questioned how much speed consumers actually need (we wrote more about that here, but the short answer is FAR LESS than what we’ve been told by BIG ISPs).
The WSJ recently exposed some of the biggest providers — Comcast, Charter, Cox and AT&T — unethically influencing how they are graded by the FCC!
We learned that these companies “wield tremendous influence” over the FCC test; Measuring Broadband America that is meant to assess how “home internet-service providers are holding up their end of the bargain when they promise users certain speeds”.
The number of ways that these companies manipulate, cheat and influence testing is staggering! These methods would make even the most seasoned college admissions cheater learn a few things. Here are just a few of the revelations and my quick takes (DF):
Questions/Topics Ahead of Time:
From WSJ: “The FCC informs companies which customers are part of the speed tests, allowing some to prioritize giving those households better service, engineers who worked at some of the companies said.”
DF: Got the exact questions or the topics before the test.
1. Self Diagnosing
From WSJ: “The FCC (also) relies on companies to provide information about the speed plans for the customers being tested.”
DF: This is like allowing students to decide how much more time they need on the exam!
2. Pay to Play
From WSJ: “Many internet providers gain additional information about the users being tested by paying SamKnows, the U.K.-based company that administers and provides equipment for the tests, for real-time access to testers’ scores year-round, and other analytics.”
DF: Now this should look a little more familiar to the cheater’s playbook – pay for access to more information that can help you ace the test.
3. Don’t Count Stuff I Am Not Good At
From WSJ: “Providers have requested the FCC delete poor results from individual users” and 27% of all data is excluded from the test results.
DF: Could you imagine if you could ask the SAT not to count 27% of the questions you decided you didn’t like, didn’t have time to prepare for or didn’t want to study? This is just incredible!
4. Or You Can Just Fake the Results All Together
From WSJ: ‘Internet providers can spot government speed-test data on their networks and essentially open more bandwidth for a customer for the duration of the test, said James Cannon, a longtime cable and telecom engineering executive who left Charter in February and now consults for various providers.“I know that goes on,” he said. “If they have a scheduled test with a government agency, they will be very careful about how that traffic is routed on the network.”’
DF: Why study for the test at all when you can just fake the results anyway!?
The former FCC chairman states it well: “How can you go to the party who controls the information and say, ‘please give me information that may implicate you?’. Well, we know what happens when you do: “Last year, a key finding was that ‘for most of the major broadband providers that were tested, measured download speeds were 100% or better of advertised speeds during peak hours.’”
“Michael Dozier, a former AT&T engineer who left this year; Maurice Dean, a telecom and media consultant with 22 years’ experience working on streaming, cable and telecom projects, including at Alphabet Inc. ’s Google; and Mr. Lubow, the cable and telecom consultant, agreed there was special treatment of speed tests. “It is problematic,” Mr. Dean said. “This attempt to ‘enhance’ performance for these measurements is a well-known practice in the industry” and makes the FCC results “almost meaningless for describing actual user experience.”’
Transparency at Our Core
At Wander, we believe the only way to solve this issue is with FULL and COMPLETE transparency with consumers.
That is why we have built live updates on your network status into the online dashboard, where real-time data feed shows the subscriber’s ACTUAL usage in Mbps. Speed tests only show what you CAN use, which you can test in our app as well, or through third party sites at anytime, but the important metric is actual usage.
Consumers use less than 5 Mbps on average at peak hours of the day, according to the latest Cisco industry report. The big guys have been looking for ways to justify higher prices and have done that by advertising speeds that are ever increasing.
The WSJ is helping to shed light on the fact that an average consumers just don’t need that much bandwidth for all of their connected home needs. On top of that, the big ISPs are actively trying to deceive users about the true speeds they deliver anyway.
Wander is Live in LA!
We’ve begun rolling out our service in Santa Monica and Van Nuys and expanding quickly throughout Los Angeles and beyond. Come join the movement by signing up for Wander, the lowest cost, high-speed option for honest internet!