The New York Attorney General is investigating whether customers of three major Internet providers are getting advertised speeds.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman last week sent Verizon, Cablevision, and Time Warner Cable letters asking for copies of disclosures made to customers and details about Internet speed tests, Reuters reported.
Schneiderman’s office confirmed the probe and said the AG is concerned that customers are paying for faster broadband speeds than they receive, due to technical problems and disputes over interconnection agreements.
Interconnection deals allow content providers like Netflix to pay for direct access to an ISP’s network to ensure that their programming gets to customers faster and without issues like buffering. Netflix has signed these deals reluctantly, arguing that they are a violation of net neutrality, but ISPs say they are standard practice. The FCC is also investigating.
“New Yorkers deserve the Internet speeds they pay for,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “But, it turns out, many of us may be paying for one thing, and getting another.”
Time Warner Cable said it is “confident that we provide our customers the speeds and services we promise them and look forward to working with the AG to resolve this matter.”
Similarly, Cablevision’s Optimum Online service “consistently surpasses advertised broadband speeds, including in FCC and internal tests,” a company spokeswoman said. “We are happy to provide any necessary performance information to the Attorney General as we do to our customers.”
Verizon, meanwhile, “is confident in the robust and reliable Internet speeds it delivers to subscribers,” a spokesman said. “We look forward to working cooperatively with the Attorney General’s office.”
A 2014 FCC study found that U.S. ISPs are providing 101 percent of advertised speeds.
But Reuters pointed to a 2014 report by the Measurement Lab Consortium (M-Lab) that said Web services tend to suffer most at points where broadband companies connect with ISPs. “ISP interconnection has a substantial impact on consumer Internet performance—sometimes a severely negative impact,” the study said, reiterating that business relationships, not major technical issues, are to blame.
M-Lab’s findings, along with consumer complaints and internal analysis, are what prompted the AG’s office to investigate local Web speeds, according to Reuters.
“Families pay a huge cost already for Internet access in New York, so I will not tolerate a situation in which they aren’t getting what they have been promised,” Schneiderman said.