Getty images Steven Puetzer
AT&T does not want its Internet speeds to be measured at home by the Federal Communications Commission, and it has already convinced the FCC to exclude its worst speed test results from an annual government report.
“AT&T told the committee this year that it will no longer cooperate with the SamKnows speed test of the FCC,” wrote the Wall Street Journal in a research report entitled “Your internet provider has probably achieved the official speed scores.”
AT&T has already convinced the FCC to exclude certain DSL test results from last year’s Measuring Broadband America report. The reports are based on the SamKnows test equipment installed in thousands of homes in the US.
“AT&T was appalled at its report of a government test that measures internet speeds” and thus “prompted the Federal Communications Commission to omit non-flattering data about its DSL internet service from the report,” the Journal wrote.
“In the end, the DSL data was omitted from the report released late last year, much to the annoyance of some officials of the agency,” the Journal wrote. “AT & T’s remaining speed levels achieved high marks.”
Pai’s FCC pays less attention to speed tests
The Obama-era FCC began the Measuring Broadband America program in 2011 to compare the actual speeds that customers receive with the advertised speeds that customers are promised. The FCC published annual reports up to and including 2016, but the test program has received less attention since Ajit Pai became chairman in January 2017.
As we wrote in November 2018, the FCC had not released any new reports on Measuring Broadband America since Pai became president. Pai’s FCC finally released both the 2017 and 2018 reports in December 2018 and put them in the final attachments of a larger Communications Marketplace Report. On this page you can view all the results of Measuring Broadband America in recent years.
The 2017 report contains two categories for AT&T, one for the oldest DSL technology and one for the DSL-based IP broadband with speeds up to 45 Mbps. While the oldest DSL service from AT&T offered only 82 percent of the advertised download speeds, AT&T IP broadband was more than 100 percent. The 2018 report only includes the AT&T IP broadband category, omitting the company’s worst results.
Satellite internet provider ViaSat also “left the FCC program” last year, the Journal wrote. ViaSat results are included in the 2018 report, which deals with tests from September 2017.
We asked the FCC yesterday whether it will include AT&T and ViaSat test results in future reports, because SamKnows test equipment can still be at home in AT&T and ViaSat customers and we asked when the next broadband measurement report will be released in America . We will update this article when we get answers.
AT&T says its own speed test is better
AT&T defended his decision to stop FCC testing when Ars contacted him. “AT&T developed a best-in-class tool to measure its broadband services for consumers,” the company said in a statement to Ars. “This tool measures performance on all AT & T IP broadband technologies and is more accurate, versatile and transparent. For these and other reasons, our tool offers better and more useful information to our customers.”
But consumers have less reason to rely on a speed test tool made by AT&T than a tool made by the FCC. Even with the FCC’s speed tests, AT&T could rule out unfailing results. It would be even easier to dump slow speed test results if AT&T is the one who decides which numbers the audience should show.
AT&T and the largest lobbying group in the mobile industry have also argued that carriers should not submit detailed 5G cards to the FCC. Separately, the FCC said this month that Verizon, T-Mobile and US Cellular exaggerated their 4G coverage in official government records.
In 2011, AT&T praised FCC’s internal speed testing as much more accurate than previous testing methods. But the company’s opinion seems to have been influenced by early test results that, according to AT&T, showed that “consumers receive high-quality broadband services from their ISPs.”