New York investigates: Are Internet speeds what providers promise?

New York investigates: Are Internet speeds what providers promise?
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New York’s attorney general announced Monday that he is investigating whether Internet service providers are delivering the speeds they promise to consumers.

In letters sent Friday to Verizon, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision, Tim Wu, the Internet policy scholar who joined Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office earlier this year, said that the office was concerned that customers were not getting the advertised speeds.

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"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,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Families pay a huge cost already for Internet access in New York, so I will not tolerate a situation in which they aren't getting what they have been promised."

Wu said the office is focused on two major concerns. First, that decisions about interconnection agreements — which govern how one provider’s network links up with another company’s — might be causing customers to receive lower speeds than they were sold.

The second concern, which was raised most explicitly in the letters to Time Warner Cable and Cablevision, deals with whether service in the “last mile,” between a customer’s home and the network infrastructure, “may deviate far enough from the speeds advertised to render the advertising deceptive.”

Investigators also appear to be particularly concerned about whether customers who pay for premium Internet packages are receiving the speeds that are advertised.

Wu asked the companies to respond to several questions about their policies by Nov. 8.

“Verizon is confident in the robust and reliable Internet speeds it delivers to subscribers,” the company said in a statement, adding that it would cooperate with Schneiderman's inquiry. Cablevision told The New York Post, which first reported the inquiry, that its broadband service regularly exceeded its advertised speeds.

In a statement, Time Warner Cable said it was "confident that we provide our customers the speeds and services we promise them."

The investigation is one of the first of the telecommunications industry since Wu joined the office in September. He has long been a voice for more open Internet policies, including coining the term “net neutrality” in the early 2000s.

Schneiderman has shown a willingness to investigate high-profile technology companies. He recently launched a probe into the daily fantasy sports industry, which some say constitutes gambling and therefore requires tighter regulation, and has battled startups in the on-demand economy.