A major study, released on Monday, confirms the need for the FCC and other federal agencies to monitor the behavior of powerful internet service providers as it found that the five major internet providers are illegally slowing connections speeds for businesses and residential consumers in several areas of the country.
Internet activists from BattlefortheNet found that noticeable reductions in speed were happening in the five largest services providers (75% of all wired homes), including AT&T, Timer Warner, and Verizon. They pulled information from 300,000 customers.
Just weeks ago the FCC promoted new “net neutrality” guidelines to protect the freedom of internet data and prevent ISPs from charging for better speed.
Tim Karr of BattlefortheNet’s Free Press said, “For too long, internet access providers and their lobbyists have characterized net neutrality protections as a solution in search of a problem. Data compiled using the Internet Health Test show us otherwise – that there is widespread and systemic abuse across the network. The irony is that this trove of evidence is becoming public just as many in Congress are trying to strip away the open internet protections that would prevent such bad behavior.”
Specialists at Open Technology Institute’s M-Lab supported the information examining the various speeds of Content Delivery Networks (CDNs), which carry some data for major websites. Any particularly popular site must pay a CDN to hold its content on national or international server networks near the customer base.
At AT&T at network is forced to pay when its outgoing traffic exceeds its incoming traffic, and the ISP will not upgrade to more capacity unless the network pays extra. AT&T does not want its connectivity arrangements regulated, though certain networks have petitioned the FCC to do so.
“History proves that absent competition a predominant position in the market such as yours creates economic incentives to use that market power to protect your traditional business in a way that is ultimately harmful to consumers,” FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said at an Internet and Television Expo recently.
The internet traffic and neutrality issues continue to be debated between the FCC and providers, and it is uncertain whether the study will make a difference for customers looking to have the speed they were promised from the five ISPs.