With the recent debate over net neutrality still raging, the FCC has sent internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon a politely worded note asking them to pretty-please stop lying to their customers. I know what you’re probably thinking: “A major mulit-national telecommunications companies would lie or somehow misrepresent themselves in the name of profit? Surely not!” I too find it hard to believe that America’s most beloved corporate citizens could be anything less than trustworthy, but there it is in black and white.
The FCC, headed by former cable company lobbyist Tom Wheeler, has issued a statement reminding internet service providers that they cannot lie to their customers about the internet speed they are receiving. If they do, the FCC will be watching and they might be a little upset. The statement doesn’t specify whether any of the major ISPs have already been doing so — they’d just like to remind them that if they are, they should stop. If they don’t, the FCC might be forced to acknowledge that problem and act in defense of American consumers. Obviously that would be awkward because Wheeler and the FCC would have to crawl all the way out of the cable industry’s pocket just to reprimand them.
Sites like YouTube and Netflix have been quietly pointing fingers at the ISPs for slow download speeds. YouTube even offers a tool that will show users the speed of their internet connection so that they can compare it to the speed they are allegedly paying for. Unfortunately, in most markets, consumers don’t have any real choice about which ISP they use. The FCC hasn’t outlined what the penalty will be for continuing to mislead consumers but it’s safe to assume that broadband companies aren’t terribly intimidated.
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