What if ISPs had to advertise minimum speeds? In Hungary, they do

The Federal Communications Commission reported this week that broadband users see about half the advertised "up to" speeds promised by Internet providers, and similar findings were made earlier this year in the UK. (Keep in mind that some speed problems are outside the control of the ISP, including poor indoor wiring, bad WiFi setups, outdated computer hardware, and Internet congestion.)

Given the massive disconnect between the actual and advertised speeds, how is a broadband buyer to know in advance how well the connection will function?

Hungary faced the same issue and has tried to address it with a novel solution: ISPs must offer guaranteed minimum speeds. Hungarian journalist Balázs Tóth writes in to say that Hungarian regulators required the guaranteed minimums back in 2008; the results are now easily visible at any ISP website.

For instance, Deutsche Telekom's Hungarian subsidiary T-Home sells its products by both maximum and minimum line speeds—and those minimums vary by technology. The 5Mbps package guarantees a mere 500Kbps when ordered on a cable line, while the same package guarantees a 2.5Mbps minimum on fiber.

H1 Telekom, which offers ADSL service, has similar minimums. Its "up to" 5Mbps service guarantees only 1Mbps, while a top-of-the-line 25Mbps connections guarantees only 4Mbps.

While this does give buyers a bit more information about what they can expect from the service, it also shows that companies required to issue consumer-level guarantees will set them absurdly low (sometimes at only 20 percent of the maximum) to ensure that they can actually deliver service without penalties.

Source: ars technica

Tags: Internet

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