“New Yorkers deserve the Internet speeds they pay for. But, it turns out, many of us may be paying for one thing, and getting another,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement.
All three companies, of course, are protesting that they deliver exactly what they promise, but the AG is particularly interested in the interconnection agreements that have been controversial before. We’ve previously covered how paying for Internet performance doesn’t always mean what customers might think it does. Last year, multiple Internet providers artificially reduced Netflix’s performance when they wanted to force the company to pay more for connecting it to customers. We previously covered how using a VPN could improve Netflix performance, even though my ISP and Netflix weren’t actuallyin a dispute at the time. Furthermore, companies like Verizon have been perfectly willing to misrepresent the requirements for basic services, even going so far as to tell customers that they needed 75Mbps service for Netflix.
Studies of ISP behavior and network allocation have previously concluded that these performance reductions are caused by business-related throttling intended to force Netflix to pay more rather than any technical issue. The NY AG is moving on the issue later than one might expect, since the last study on the topic came out a year ago, but evidently customer complaints have continued to pile up since then.
Verizon, in particular, can expect close scrutiny. The company is already under investigation for its attempts to break its agreement to wire New York City for FiOS, and for its behavior in neighboring New Jersey. Ars reports that an FCC report found that Verizon delivered 83% of its advertised speed during peak usage periods, below the average 91% average for the entire country. New York state-specific figures for each ISP are not available.
Apparently the AG service will focus at least on part on higher-speed plans; the AG office told Ars it wants to find out if high-speed 300Mbps service is actually faster than 50Mbps service and, if so, by how much. Companies often charge extortionate rates for higher speed tiers, so discovering whether or not those speeds are actually delivered is something buyers would likely want to know.