Americans Don’t Know Their Broadband Speeds And May Not Care

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A new FCC study shows that 4 out of 5 Americans do not know the connection speed of the broadband service in their homes. The FCC announced last week that subscriber rules for wireless customers were not clear, although they are part of the service contracts that all consumers with cellphones sign.

But, the FCC is ever busy helping the American public with its relationships with cable companies, telecom firms, and wireless providers.

In discussing the study  FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, “Speed matters. The more broadband subscribers know about what speeds they need and what speeds they get, the more they can make the market work and push faster speeds over broadband networks.” The agency is also providing tools for consumers to use to measure the speed of their connections.

The notion that people care about the speed of their connections is a stretch. It is like saying the consumers want faster computers or 4G cell service. But, just because something is available is not an sign that most people will fund it useful.

There are a limited number of Americans who download large files and use file sharing to illegally send movies over the internet, but most people use broadband for a limited number of functions. Broadband makes exploring the internet easier. It allows e-mail to work more quickly and the use of multimedia like music and video possible. But, most Americans do not use the internet to give them access to large video files beyond those on YouTube. The great majority of broadband connections are good enough for instant messaging and logging on social networks like Facebook. In other words, speed is in the eye of the user and not the FCC.

The FCC has made its primary goal consumer access to the internet and to make that internet faster, whether it is over wireless systems or landlines. As a part of that, it wants customers to have information about what their services will and will not do. But, there is not a great surge in public complaints about connection speeds and most Americans have broadband that serves their purposes.

Most Americans do not know their connections speeds because it is not of any interest to them

Douglas A. McIntyre