So, the FCC/Sam Knows “Measuring Broadband America” speed test is finally finished and guess what? The Sam Knows results, which measured the actual speeds provided by ISPs to their subscribers, demonstrates that American consumers are getting the broadband speeds they’re paying for. For example, most major broadband providers deliver actual speeds that are “generally 80% to 90% of advertised maximum speeds or better.” And even during peak usage periods (7pm to 11pm on weeknights), ISPs were still able to deliver actual speed that are “80% of advertised maximum speeds or better.” These results, based on data from monitoring equipment installed in consumer homes and in ISP networks, debunk the conventional mythology that ISPs are delivering far less than the speeds they advertise. Unfortunately, that mythology grew out of an unscientific and unreliable report that was picked up and repeated by some credible sources in the past, even making its way into the National Broadband Plan. Of course, real facts will not be enough to satisfy everyone. Some of the so-called public interest groups actually began bashing the report a couple of weeks ago (apparently you don’t have to actually see a report before you begin attacking its findings). Like other conspiracy theorists, those consumer groups are wedded to the mythology and won’t let things like pesky facts get in their way.
But you have to hand it to the FCC. True to the Chairman’s word, he was not satisfied with guesswork and instead insisted on conducting a fact-based inquiry into what was really happening in the marketplace. The results are in, and it’s clear that consumers are getting high-quality broadband services from their ISPs. Perhaps now we can get past the rhetoric about advertised vs. actual speeds and focus on the important task of ensuring all Americans have access to these broadband services. Reforming the universal service program to provide support for broadband, making more spectrum available for mobile broadband services, and, of course, approving the AT&T / T-Mobile merger, which will enable the combined company to deploy LTE to 97% of the U.S. population, would all be big steps the FCC could take toward the goal of making broadband ubiquitous in America. SamKnows has shown us what broadband can do where it’s available; the challenge now is to make sure everyone has an opportunity to use it.