The American Federal Communications Commission (FCC) hasn’t been able to avoid the headlines recently as they have been attacked left, right and centre for their policies. Just a few weeks ago Fluidata published a news story discussing how the FCC were being vilified for suggesting that there should be a ‘two-tiered’ Internet system, and now it seems that they are once again under the microscope due to their involvement in the issue of slow broadband download speeds in the US.
The video streaming website Netflix has recently complained that two of the biggest providers of broadband in the US – Comcast and Verizon – are deliberately slowing down incoming traffic from their website due to the fact that they won’t pay for a less congested entry point. However, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Comcast and Verizon have claimed that the reason why Netflix is experiencing slow download speeds is due to the fact that they aren’t routing their traffic properly. Discussing the issue last week, Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, said: "At the heart of this is whether ISPs that provide connectivity in the final mile to the home can advantage or disadvantage content providers, and therefore advantage or disadvantage consumers.
"Consumers need to understand what is occurring when the Internet service they’ve paid for does not adequately deliver the content they desire, especially content they’ve also paid for. What we are doing right now is collecting information, not regulating. We are looking under the hood. Consumers want transparency. They want answers. And so do I." Mr Wheeler went on to state that the commission is "not suggesting that any company is at fault," however many people are claiming that the way in which broadband systems function in the US is unfair and doesn’t provide consumers what they are paying for.
The same has also been said about UK broadband providers including BT Openreach who has been under investigation by the competition regulation authority Ofcom for a number of months now. Openreach was first placed under investigation due to the fact that it was taking too long for them to fix faults and install new phone lines. As one of the largest ISPs in the country, Ofcom has stated that they need to do more to keep broadband and telephone services running in the UK, with Dominic Baliszewsk, telecoms expert at Broadbandchoices, saying: "Ofcom's proposed new rules over repairs and installations will be met with relief by every household who has ever been left for days, or even weeks, without a working broadband connection.
"Openreach controls a significant proportion of the UK's broadband infrastructure but has no direct customer relationship, which meant some people were, in effect, stuck in digital limbo if they encountered a service problem their provider was unable to fix." One month later Openreach was in more trouble with Ofcom, this time for breaking competition rules as the regulator claims that the company is under-pricing its retail services in order to keep competitors such as TalkTalk and BskyB out of the market. Discussing the issue, A TalkTalk spokesman said: “We have long believed that it’s time for fibre to be more robustly regulated, beginning with a margin squeeze.
“This will create a more competitive market, whilst still allowing BT to earn a fair return, and make consumers and businesses better off. It is important this happens sooner rather than later.” The ongoing battle between ISPs is currently leading to customers losing out, especially when it comes to reliable download speeds. This is why so many businesses choose instead to invest in dedicated leased lines which guarantee download speeds and allow them to manage traffic in a way that aids productivity and provides value for money.