What’s more, the extraordinary resilience of American broadband stands in stark contrast to other places like Europe where officials have had to ask companies like Netflix, Disney and Facebook to throttle their speeds because the older, more heavily regulated European networks can’t handle the traffic surges.
It woefully wrong to claim U.S. broadband is degrading under COVID-19. The gold-standard measure for last-mile networks is the system created by independent research group SamKnows, which reported a dip of less than 1 percent in download speeds in most places since the sheltering skyrocketed broadband demand. Other world-leading measures like Ookla’s speedtest.net confirm that finding.
The problem for Meinrath and his fellow travelers is that M-Labs’ speed tests have historically been debunked as junk science by the internet engineering establishment. His latest claim is that a novel “international consortium” of researchers finds that 62 percent of U.S. counties have seen broadband speeds fall below 25Mbps (the FCC’s definition of broadband), but he provides little insight as to the membership or the group’s methodology.
The most obvious flaw in the latest claim however is that it almost certainly conflates variables — multiple users on a home network, Wi-Fi slowdowns and content provider logjams on their central servers. Measuring internet speeds on a single computer when an entire family is online tells us very little about the bandwidth that broadband providers are delivering to homes. This rookie mistake never should have made its way into print.
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