If you’ve ever done a speedtest on your home internet, you know that the advertised speeds you pay for are rarely the speeds you get. This seems to be a problem with ISPs around the globe, because the Australian government is currently considering a bill that would make it illegal for ISPs to exaggerate speeds, or else face a fine of up to $1 million.
“One constituent says he's being charged for a 25 megabit per second download speed and a five megabit per second upload and he's actually getting less than one tenth of that,” said Andrew Wilkie, the Member of Parliament who introduced the bill. “In other words, people are getting worse than dial-up speed when they've been promised a whizz-bang, super-fast connection.”
Internet speeds can vary based on how many people are on the network and even the hardware you use, but while we can’t expect ISPs to deliver maximum speed 100 percent of the time, previous probes into their performance have shown many ISPs in the US aren’t delivering even the minimum advertised speeds a majority of the time for the average user.
Under the proposed Australian law, ISPs are simply required to be more transparent about what consumers can expect with a specific plan. Rather than advertising only the maximum speeds, they would have to include typical speeds for the average user, indicate busy periods, and clearly list any other factors that might impact service. The bill was only introduced this week, so it’s yet to be seen if it will gain traction.
“I’m hard pressed to think of any other product that’s on the market in the country where you’re sold a promise and the service provider or the manufacturer is not required to actually deliver on their promise,” Wilkie told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Last fall, the UK enacted similar rules, requiring ISPs to advertise typical speeds, rather than maximums. But I wouldn’t hold your breath on any major overhauls in the US considering the Federal Communications Commission, in its most recent broadband report, didn’t even include the previously-tracked metric on how consistent ISP speeds were.
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