In a study titled, "Broadband Performance," the FCC, also known as the Federal Communications Commission — you know, an entity of the U.S. government — is making it official: ISPs are telling consumers that their Internet connection is faster than it really is.
In fact, according to the document, in 2009 "download speeds experienced by US consumers appear to lag advertised speeds by roughly 50 per cent." As in ISPs were telling people they were getting speeds to the tune of 7-8 Mbps (or megabit-per-second), when they were really getting 3-4 Mbps.
I have some personal experience with this. Recently my Internet connection was running mighty sluggish, so I called my local Time Warner office here in New York City. I was given a line about how it's me and not them, and then asked to do a speed test. When it came up around 7 Mbps, I was told that it was much too high and after a minute I was asked to run another test, coming up with 2 Mbps. The problem, apparently, is that my Internet connection was too darned fast! Good thing they throttled it, right? (It actually turned out to be a national issue, not a problem on my end.)
So, what can you do to protect yourself? Well, for one, take multiple speed tests. This is my "official" test through Time Warner, for instance (pictured above). Really, though, the person trying to sell you the service is the last person you should listen to. No, no — don't reach for a tinfoil hat. Google "broadband speed test" and just go nuts. Heck, CNET even has one.
You signed a contract with your ISP, and part of that contract should mention a speed. If you find yourself below that after several tests, take them to task!
Via The Register