FCC Broadband Speed Tests Should Also Aid Enforcement

While it's great the Federal Communications Commission is offering free , it would be greater if the commission would use the data to force carriers to more accurately describe the speeds they offer and then keep their promises.

There are lots of speed tests available on the Internet, but when the agency charged with regulating Internet carriers offers a speed test, it should be more than a curiosity or a toy.

The FCC's site should generate real information that leads to enforcement actions against carriers that don't deliver promised speeds. Of course, first the FCC must require carriers to make actual speed promises.

My AT&T DSL account promises me a download speed of "up to 6mbps." That tells me the maximum speed I can expect, but says nothing about the typical or lowest speed AT&T will deliver. There is the implied promise that my bandwidth will be somewhere near 6mbps, but the words "up to" let AT&T off the hook.

Indeed, Broadband.gov tells me my download speed is 5.115mbps, which qualifies as meeting the AT&T numbers, but so would the speed delivered by my old Hayes Smartmodem 1200.