These broadband providers are hitting a major speed bump

October 26, 2015, 9:28 PM UTC
Brochures for Verizon FiOS and a free netbook sit inside a Verizon Wireless store in New York, U.S.
Photograph by Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Three major broadband providers in New York have been asked by the state’s attorney general to prove that their Internet connection speeds are as fast as they claim.

Letters dated Oct. 23 have been sent to Time Warner Cable (TWC), Verizon (VZ) and Cablevision (CVC) by newly-appointed senior enforcement counsel Tim Wu requesting for a host of information, including customer disclosures and test results that companies have performed on their Internet speeds, reported Reuters.

In the letter, Wu specifically expresses concern over interconnection arrangements between the companies, which happens when one company’s service uses the infrastructure of another: “We are concerned that those paying for premium options, for various reasons mainly related to interconnection arrangements, may not be experiencing proportional increases in experienced speeds,” Wu stated in his letter to all three companies (the contents of the letter can be accessed by clicking the company names above).

Wu pointedly addresses premium packages offered by all three companies: Verizon’s FIOS program, Time Warner Cable’s “Extreme” and “Ultimate” offerings, and Cablevision’s “Optimum Online Ultra” program. All three tout upload and download speeds of between 10 Mbps and 50 Mbps.

“New Yorkers deserve the internet speeds they pay for,” State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “But it turns out, many of us may be paying for one thing and getting another. Families pay a huge cost already for internet access in New York, so I will not tolerate a situation in which they aren’t getting what they have been promised.”

The U.S. has notoriously lagged behind its developed peers in Internet speeds. In Akamai’s ‘State of the Internet’ report for the first quarter of this year, the U.S. ranked 24th among countries for peak Internet connectivity speeds, behind nations such as Romania, Macao and Latvia.

That hasn’t stopped broadband providers from promising customers a super-fast speed for downloading and streaming songs and movies. Cablevision’s “Ultra 101” home broadband service, as Wu’s letter mentions, promises customers “that they may download a 3 MB song in 0.2 seconds.” The 150 Mbps FiOS Internet package is described as “great for 8 devices,” and pledges “faster speeds and less lag while you’re working or at home.”

All three companies have released statements confirming their cooperation in the investigation and confidence in their listed speeds, said Reuters. Their response would seemingly back up the Federal Communication Commission’s 2013 ‘Measuring Broadband America’ report that found ISPs, on average, delivered 96% of advertised speeds during peak weekday consumer usage hours.

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