Premium Broadband May Be Pointless

"Timothy C Wu" by ZeroDivide - Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

“Timothy C Wu” by ZeroDivide – Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

US broadband providers have been told they must prove their claims of offering “super-fast” connections. Officials believe technical disputes between companies may mean paying extra for fast speeds could be pointless.

The demand comes from Tim Wu, who was recently appointed the senior enforcement counsel for the New York state Attorney General. It’s hardly a surprise Wu’s going after the broadband companies as he’s a long-time advocate of an open Internet and is credited with coining the phrase “net neutrality.”

Bloomberg reports Wu has written to Verizon, Time Warner and Cablevision warning that his office may launch a formal investigation into their premium broadband services, marketed under terms such as “Ultimate” and “Optimum.”

Unlike many parts of the US, New York does have competition for cable-based broadband services. However, Wu believes the supposedly faster offerings may not live up to their potential because of slowdowns caused by “interconnection disputes” which involve the way data travels through wires and equipment of multiple companies to and from customers.

The threatened probe appears not to be based around who bears responsibility for any slowdowns, but rather the effect it has on customers who’ve paid for a premium service. Wu notes in the letter that the actual speeds people get “may deviate far enough from the speeds advertised to render the advertising deceptive.”

Wu has asked the providers to hand over documents covering the actual performance of the services, the various interconnection agreements, and the training given to employees about how they should market the services to customers. All three companies told Bloomberg they will cooperate with the Attorney General.

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