The FCC's fourth annual report on broadband speeds is in, and it's mostly good news. Unless you're DSL customer. If so, your internet speeds are most likely slower than advertised. And soon, several companies will get a letter from the FCC demanding an explanation.
Four DSL providers—Verizon, CenturyLink, Frontier, and Windstream—will also receive letters for delivering speeds significantly slower than advertised. This has been going on for a while, and despite what some major telecom executives have claimed, the trend is a clear indication that DSL can't actually compete with broadband and fiber. To Verizon's credit, its FiOS service clocked some of the fastest speeds included in the report. So it's not like the company can't provide fast service. It's just not keeping the promises it made to the customers who pay less.
The FCC news comes on the heels of a dustup between Netflix and Verizon over streaming speeds. A couple weeks ago, Netflix somewhat brazenly called out Verizon for failing to provide enough bandwidth to stream videos smoothly. It was an odd situation—and surely a PR stunt to some degree—since Netflix and Verizon had signed a deal to ensure smooth delivery of streaming videos. To hear Netflix tell it, though, Verizon didn't live up to that promise either.
This isn't just about how you stream House of Cards, though. Believe it or not, the FCC's latest findings could bear major implications in Comcast's controversial plan to buy Time Warner Cable. As a recent Quartz report points out, Comcast has been bullish about propping up the DSL industry as "formidable broadband competitors." David Cohen, an executive vice president at Comcast, recently told the Senate Judiciary Committee that "market realities and investments by telcos in DSL technology that have led to increased DSL speeds." The FCC now says DSL providers show "little or no improvement in maximum speeds."
So now the FCC will ask Verizon and the other three DSL providers to explain how they're going to keep the promises they made to their customers. That's good news if you're a DSL subscriber. Meanwhile, the good news for cable and fiber subscribers is that actual upload and download speeds tend to match up with what these companies claim. [FCC via WSJ]
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