Some things, you can measure centrally. Some, you can survey with a sample group. But sometimes, what you really need is a giant crowdsourced effort — and that’s what New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is asking Empire State residents to help with.
You may remember that the AG brought a lawsuit earlier this month against Time Warner Cable — now Charter — for deliberately misleading customers about internet connection speeds.
The state claims that TWC acknowledged internally that 75% of the modems it had deployed to customers signed up for a 20 Mbps service plan could not actually deliver that speed — and were being kept in place and deployed to new consumers “due to budget restraints.” As of this month, the AG’s office reports that 185,000 New York TWC subscribers still have deficient modems.
Overall, the suit alleges, subscribers paying for premium connection plans of 100, 200, and 300 Mbps were receiving actual connections up to 70% slower than promised. WiFi network speeds using those connections were even slower than that, some clocking in at 80% lower than the speeds customers were paying more than $100 a month for.
The suit stemmed from an earlier investigation Schneiderman’s office launched in 2015.
The AG is still interested in gathering more data from New Yorkers, though, and so has launched a website explaining to residents exactly how to conduct a speedtest using a specific tool and share the resulting data with his office.
“Millions of New York families and businesses depend on reliable internet for everything from running a business to communicating with family and friends,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “No one should be paying a premium for speeds and services they aren’t receiving. Conducting a speed test will ensure people are getting the speed they’re paying for, and I urge New Yorkers to submit their results and help my office continue to hold service providers accountable.”
The Attorney General’s office also issued a guide [PDF] for consumers, including a glossary of internet connection terms as well as a path to thinking through how consumers can think through their needs before signing up for a specific plan.