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FCC Paper: Consumers Only Getting Half the Broadband Speeds They Pay For

Underscores Need for FCC to Move Forward with Re-classification and Increase Disclosures to Consumers
Published:   August 17, 2010

Washington DC -- Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a technical paper analyzing U.S. residential broadband performance as part of the National Broadband Plan. According to the paper, actual broadband download speeds experienced by U.S. consumers appear to lag advertised speeds by roughly 50%.

"In the U.S. we pay far more for slower broadband that an increasing number of nations around the world. Add to that, consumers appear to rarely even get the speeds there providers advertise and it underscores the need for substantial policy intervention by the FCC, said Benjamin Lennett, Senior Policy Analyst for the Open Technology Initiative (OTI)."

Currently, consumers have access only to information on the theoretical "up to" speeds of broadband services, which severely inhibits competition among providers. Last year, OTI proposed a broadband nutrition label and truth-in-labeling requirements drawn from similar useful disclosure requirements by lenders, to provide consumers with information on actual performance of their broadband connection. The FCC has solicited comment on transparency and disclosure rules for broadband providers, but likely cannot move forward until it resolves its authority over broadband access services.

"Increasing transparency and disclosure requirements to protect consumers and increase competition is yet another example of the need for the FCC to move forward quickly with resolving its oversight over broadband access services. Without re-classification, consumers will continue to be left in the dark about their broadband services, added Mr. Lennett."

OTI's Broadband Truth-in-Labeling is available at: http://oti.newamerica.net/publications/policy/broadband_truth_in_labeling

Users can test their broadband connection speeds and other performance measures at Measurement Lab at: http://www.measurementlab.net/.

Please contact Kate Brown with media inquiries at 202-596-3365 or brown@newamerica.net.

About the Open Technology Initiative:
New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative formulates policy and regulatory reforms to support open architectures and open source innovations and facilitates the development and implementation of open technologies and communications networks. For more information, visit: http://oti.newamerica.net.

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