What's broadband up to? FCC says not enough

The FCC has put into writing what everyone's known all along: When service providers promise "up to" speeds they mean, literally, up to an optimum point that can be reached, may be reached, but certainly is not the speed you'll get every time you link onto the Internet.

Broadband speed is a point of contention and competition, Knology (Nasdaq: KNOL) President-CFO Todd Holt told analysts recently during the 2010 Morgan Keegan Technology Conference. "When we say we deliver 12 megs in a market it is our intent to always deliver 12 megs," he said. "If you read any of the other cable literature it will say up to 12 and that's the last Saturday of the month at 3 o'clock in the morning they get 12 megs."

That, in essence, is what the FCC has found as well, noting that advertising often lags far behind reality--about as far as data lags during a congested period. ISPs, for instance, touted average download speeds of 6.7 Mbps but "FCC analysis shows that the media actual speed consumers experienced in the first half of 2009 was roughly 3 Mbps, while the average (mean) actual speed was approximately 4 Mbps."

The answer, the feds said, it to come up with some kind of advertising that does not include the terms "up to." How about, "It's 3 o'clock in the afternoon. Do you know what your broadband provider is down to?"

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