3:00 PM -- If MSOs continue to style themselves as ISPs, as Charter Communications Inc. is doing, or view broadband as cable's new anchor service, a direction Time Warner Cable Inc. is heading in, then it should follow that broadband speeds and the quality of those broadband speeds are quickly becoming paramount. (See TWC: Broadband Becoming 'Anchor Service' and Charter Ready to Give DSL a Thrashing .)
But the notion of using advertised speeds in a "best effort" world seems as outdated as a dial-up modem. It leaves service providers open to doubts that the speeds they are claiming to offer is all just a bunch of smoke and mirrors.
Case in point: the New York area, where Verizon Communications Inc. and Cablevision Systems Corp. are trading blows over recent advertisements.
To catch you up, Cablevision sought to ban Verizon from using ads citing Federal Communications Commission (FCC) data published in August that say the MSO delivered 59 percent or less of advertised speeds during peak periods. A more recent FCC study said the MSO had "markedly improved" in October, though the average download speeds of its 15Mbit/s tier reached "90 percent of the advertised speed" during peak hours.
On Monday, Verizon grudgingly agreed to tweak its ads so they no longer refer to the older FCC data as "new," "recent" or "just released." But Verizon maintained in its memo to the court (DSL Reports has posted it here) that its ads were "entirely accurate and truthful."
Then again, the FCC's chart comparing ISPs showed that Verizon's DSL service didn't exactly blow the doors off the hinges, either. (See Will Verizon Abandon DSL for Mobile Broadband?)
These challenges to advertised speeds will grow louder still as more consumers tap into broadband to serve their video needs.
The ridiculous bickering about who has the biggest pipe on the block will end (or maybe cool off) when ISPs of all shapes and sizes go to the lengths of offering -- gasp! -- guaranteed speeds that are checked by a reputable third party.
Maybe that's wishful thinking due to the kind of bandwidth that would need to be freed up to support such a policy, but what would you feel better paying for, a best-effort 15Mbit/s service, or a guaranteed 5Mbit/s service?
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable