Congress Wants Consumers To Have More Information About Their Broadband Connection

The government may soon help consumers pick between competing broadband offers, if a Senate bill becomes law. Last week, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation unanimously approved S. 1492, the Broadband Data Improvement Act. The bill focuses primarily on refining the FCC’s analysis of broadband deployment: the Commission would have to reevaluate the definition of broadband as anything over 200 kbps; broadband access would be evaluated by smaller zip+4 codes, rather than full zip codes; and, the Commission would need to create a new metric for services such as high definition video. Most helpful to consumers, however, is a provision calling for the Government Accountability Office to provide consumers with information about their broadband connection’s costs and capabilities:

From the bill:

(a) IN GENERAL- The Comptroller General shall conduct a study to consider and evaluate additional broadband metrics or standards that may be used by industry and the Federal Government to provide users with more accurate information about the cost and capability of their broadband connection, and to better compare the deployment and penetration of broadband in the United States with other countries. At a minimum, such study shall consider potential standards or metrics that may be used–

(1) to calculate the average price per megabyte of broadband offerings;

(2) to reflect the average actual speed of broadband offerings compared to advertised potential speeds;

(3) to compare the availability and quality of broadband offerings in the United States with the availability and quality of broadband offerings in other industrialized nations, including countries that are members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; and

(4) to distinguish between complementary and substitutable broadband offerings in evaluating deployment and penetration.

Subsection 2 is especially exciting for its potential to raise awareness of the galling disparity between advertised speeds and realized speeds. Having passed the committee, the bill will next be considered by the full Senate.

Broadband Data Improvement Act clears Senate Commerce Committee [Ars Technica]
Commerce Committee Approves Inouye Broadband Data Collection Bill (Press Release) Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
S.1492 – Broadband Data Improvement Act [THOMAS]
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Edit Your Comment

  1. Squeezer99 says:

    why do we need a government beauracracy to figure out which broadband service is cheapest?

  2. JohnMc says:

    Hmmm. I am usually always for more info to the consumer. But I am afraid this is kinda of like asking the butcher what’s in his bratwurst. You really don’t want to know….

  3. cde says:

    Wow, broadband at 200kbits/s? That doesn’t even exclude some of the most pathetic satalite companies. Broadband should be defined as at least 1mb/s…

  4. roothorick says:

    While I agree with CDE, this is still a boon to consumers. I have Road Runner, and it’s the best service in the area and my own independent tests have shown it to be at least 3x faster than competing DSL services in my area, but what exactly am I paying for? Even Time Warner won’t tell me, and I’ve called multiple times. Oh well, I’ll just be happy I’m actually getting acceptable broadband service.

  5. endless says:

    secion 2, holla at cher boy.

    i know at my parents house in an old person neighboorhood, roadrunner seems considerably faster than at my fiancee’s new apartment (quite nice, lots of young hip people who can afford broadband) though its still far from slow at the new apartment.

  6. rbf2000 says:

    I hope that their benchmarks for the speed is better than the EPA’s former benchmark for fuel efficiency in cars, that is to say, I hope they aren’t doing their tests at 5AM when there is, relatively, no network activity.

  7. mrrbob says:

    I am an ISP and I can guarantee you one thing for sure. You want your connection as cheap as possible? Keep the government off my ass. Who do you think I will pass this cost on to? No it is NOT your uncle….sam it’s YOU. All my customers need to know is they are paying 35.00 per month for 3 megs down and 384k up and I don’t filter anything or throttle anything. What the hell else is there to know?