June 9, 2016
Time Warner Cable Speeds 'Abysmal', NY Attorney General's Office Says Time Warner 'Earned Miserable Reputation'

New York's Attorney General has some points to make about Time Warner Cable's advertised Internet speeds.

The response to what broadband companies advertise and what they charge has been an area of interest for Eric Schneiderman's office, which launched an investigation last October.

As Syracuse.com notes, the "blazing fast" and "super-reliable" Internet speeds that consumers are told they can expect from Time Warner service aren't choice adjectives that those consumers might actually use to describe Time Warner's product.

[Photo by Tali Arbel/AP Images]
[Photo by Tali Arbel/AP Images]In an open letter to CEO Tom Rutledge of Charter Communications Inc. (which bought Time Warner for $60 billion), obtained by the Washington Times, Tim Wu, the senior enforcement counsel for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office, urged the company to make better on its claims.

"[I]t appears that Time Warner Cable has been advertising its WiFi in ways that defy the technology's technical capabilities and has been provisioning some of its customers with equipment that simply cannot achieve the higher bandwidths the company has sold to them," Wu said, adding, "We recently called on New York customers of major broadband providers to use open-source tools to test the Internet speeds they were experiencing. The results we received from Time Warner Cable customers were abysmal. Not only did Time Warner Cable fail to achieve the speeds its customers were promised and paid for (which Time Warner Cable blamed on the testing method), it generally performed worse in this regard than other New York broadband providers."

Wu, an open-source proponent and leading advocate of net neutrality, rounded out his letter with tough criticisms aimed at the company.

"In short, what we have seen in our investigation so far suggests that Time Warner Cable has earned the miserable reputation it enjoys among consumers."
The Wall Street Journal reports that the investigation by the New York Attorney General's office focused on major broadband providers, such as Cablevision Systems Corp. and Verizon Communications Inc.

As a result, Charter issued a statement in response to the findings of the office's investigation.

"As we progress with the integration of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, we will continue to do the same, bringing all TWC and BHN systems all-digital so that Charter can provide its advanced Spectrum products and services, bringing greater value and more consumer friendly policies, such as minimum speeds of 60 mbps, no data caps, no usage-based billing, and no modem lease fees to all our customers."

[Photo by Jeff Roberson/AP Images]
[Photo by Jeff Roberson/AP Images]Charter also addressed, in specific, congestion issues in reference to sites like Netflix, of which users experience considerable lag in performance, by stating that they would not charge companies for traffic-handoff into its network for several years -- a strategy intended to ease the type of congestion which irks consumers.

The results of the investigation come at a precarious time for large, corporate broadband providers. Motherboard carried a story last summer on 101 local municipalities which are pledging to pursue faster broadband networks, even if they have to build them on their own.

Following an FCC ruling in 2014 which overruled the bans in some states to restrict municipal networks, allowing communities to build their own, 32 cities banded together to form the Next Century Cities coalition.

Municipal internet is not a new idea, with the most notable example being Chattanooga, Tennessee, which capitalized on a publicly owned electricity company to build up fast, fiber optic Internet service. Residents of Chattanooga boast speeds of a gigabit per second, which is several times faster than the speeds of many communities throughout the United States.

Developments like this could add to the pressure put on major telecommunications companies to build up the infrastructure needed to charge the prices they want. Prices that, according to investigations by New York's Attorney General's office, do not measure up.

[Photo by Mark Lennihan/AP Images]