Sen. Schumer Lobbies FCC to Crack Down on Deceptive ISPs

Despite the claim by the Federal Communications Commission that 99 percent of New York City residents have access to fast Internet service, Sen. Chuck Schumer said many in the city still struggle with reliable connections.

by Clayton Guse, New York Daily News / June 3, 2019
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Shutterstock

(TNS) — It may be 2019, but most New Yorkers are stuck with Internet speeds from 2009.

Sen. Chuck Schumer called on the Federal Communications Commission on Sunday to crack down on deceptive practices of Internet service companies, which claim to give their customers state-of-the-art service while delivering anything but.

Schumer’s comments followed a report released last week by the FCC claiming the number of Americans with access to high-speed broadband Internet increased by 18% from last year, a figure widely criticized by analysts who found that companies regularly lie about Internet speeds.

The Senate minority leader noted that more than 4 million people in New York City alone do not have access to “true" high-speed broadband Internet, or service that can download at least 25 megabits of data per second, The FCC claims that more than 99% in the city have that kind of speedy service.

“While we live in an era of faster and faster, the reality of Internet speed across New York is that it may move more like molasses than lightning," said Schumer (D-N.Y.). "If you spend four hours a day using the Internet with 5% of that time lost to a sluggish connection. say 15 minutes a day, and you stretch this over one year’s time, that’s 50 hours of lost productivity.”

Comcast, the country’s largest Internet service provider; Spectrum, and Verizon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The FCC allows Internet providers to self-report their speeds, which allows them to give crummier service to customers than what they advertise. Schumer said the agency should take corrective measures to stop the providers from lying to the government and millions of people.

Awareness of falsely reported Internet speeds became widespread last December when a study released by Microsoft showed that the percentage of Americans without broadband access is significantly higher than the FCC’s numbers indicate.

Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School who has been a leading advocate for equitable, open Internet, or net neutrality, backed Schumer’s efforts, noting that Internet companies stand to profit from lying about their speeds.

“The cable and phone companies have routinely deceived the public when it comes to the broadband speeds they promise and what they deliver,” said Wu. “Unfortunately, the FCC has been complicit in this deception for many years.”

FCC representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

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