Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

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Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores
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By edhat staff

Cox Communications is among the list of broadband companies accused of pushing the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) to omit unflattering data on speed tests, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports.

Measuring Broadband America is a nearly 10-year-old program for the U.S. government to gauge whether home internet-service providers are actually providing the speeds they advertise to their customers. Another WSJ article from August determined paying more for "faster internet speeds" is not worth it.  

"Companies wield tremendous influence over the study and often employ tactics to boost their scores, according to interviews with more than two dozen industry executives, engineers and government officials. As a result, the FCC’s report likely gives consumers an unreliable measure of internet providers’ performances by overstating speeds," the article states.

Broadband providers are informed by the FCC of the customers will be part of the speed tests which allows the company to provide better service during the test. They've also persuaded the FCC to remove unflattering data by blaming faulty equipment. Many representatives from the companies denied doing so, according to the article.

WSJ spoke with Goleta resident and Cox Communications customer Marcia Pearson who pays for 30 Mbps (megabits per second). She used Cox's online tool to test her internet speed and it only registered speeds of 3.6 Mbps.

“It is annoying that one has to pay for something that is falsely advertised,” she said to WSJ who then followed up with Cox. The company stated it discovered outdated equipment in the network connecting to her home and fixed it, which Pearson said improved the speed.

Last year an FCC metric stated Cox's speed "consistency" was 37% of what it advertised. "Cox officials denied responsibility, arguing to the FCC that a congested link to an internet middleman had lowered scores for some of its Arizona customers," the article stated.

In an FCC report published in December 2018, the consistency of Cox's speed is omitted from a comparison chart and only added as a footnote where it stated the company's consistency score would have been 85% if the contested results were not counted.

Both Cox and the FCC stated most speed tests occurred over the congested internet link which carried less than 3% of Cox’s web traffic.

A former executive of Charter stated internet providers can detect government speed-test data on their networks and essentially open more bandwidth for a customer for the duration of the test. Another telecom consultant stated it's a well-known practice and makes the FCC results almost meaningless.

A follow-up WSJ report shows Americans in low-income neighborhoods and rural areas get slower broadband speeds but pay similar monthly prices to those in wealthy and urban areas.

The authors analyzed address-level competition for more than 2,000 internet bills from across the country and found that 68% of the households don't have the option to switch to a second high-speed broadband provider (cable or fiber).

For households with stand-alone internet service, the median speed in our analysis was 100 megabits per second, or Mbps. The median monthly internet cost was $66, including internet-related fees.

The article states a Cox customer in a low-income area of Baton Rouge, La., pays $80 for a speed of 300 Mbps with an additional $10 internet-related fee while another household near a wealthier Laguna Beach, CA, pays $55 for the same speed from the same provider without a fee.

A spokesperson from Cox told WSJ the pricing differences were probably due to promotional offers or discounts and confirmed their standard pricing is now consistent across markets nationwide. 

For those living in Santa Barbara, the broadband options are largely limited to Cox and Frontier with Cox dominating the market giving consumers no other choice.

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helena Dec 30, 2019 10:56 AM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

There are many sites from which one can test internet speed. One of the ones I use is; it shows both download and upload Mbps. Never, in all of the years I've had Cox, has my internet speed matched the one I am buying from Cox. To take a cue from Bodyboarder, Cox has us by the balls.

Curmudgeon Dec 30, 2019 01:41 PM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

Don't forget - to get a more accurate test result you must plug your computer directly into the modem (not the router) and be sure no other devices are running, i.e., other computers in the house, web cams, etc.

mp805 Dec 30, 2019 02:22 PM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

There are going to be alot of upvotes in this post as we all agree Cox is screwing us bigtime. One of the things I hate most is doing the cox pricing dance after your locked pricing expires...and having to negotiate the pricing again. "I'm sorry no we don't have any promotions to get you to the price you were paying" UGH!

pxn Dec 30, 2019 05:41 PM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

Why can't we get the city of Santa Barbara to stop this monopoly? Has COX paid them off? Shouldn't we make this a litmus test for anyone running for city office? Can we use a voter referendum to end the monopoly?

ChillinGrillin Dec 30, 2019 09:52 PM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

Cox doesn't run "High speed Internet" and it definitely is not "our friend in the digital age." They are a bunch of con-men monopolists who could care less about their customers or service quality.

bradleybennett Dec 31, 2019 07:20 AM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

Agreed. It is truly a shame that our city government has not opened up fair competition for broadband service and demanded that service providers bring in better infrastructure to bring us into the 21st century. The fact that we do not have fiber optic service to residences and businesses is embarrassing. Cox has an effective monopoly as Frontier and their DSL service is not considered competition. Demand more from your city council reps and your Mayor.

a-1577806611 Dec 31, 2019 07:36 AM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

It would been nice to have more protection from internet providers, airlines, and spam phone calls. After many years, there’s supposed to be some protection from spam phone calls in the works.

SB_93117 Dec 31, 2019 08:51 AM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

I wish there was another choice for internet. I can't believe how much we pay for basic "expanded" channels and internet! NEARLY $300 A MONTH! It's such a scam! I literally HATE Cox! And yes, their name says it ALL!

RHS Dec 31, 2019 08:53 AM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

So many people here are blaming the government for not doing something about this issue. Interesting in the Edhat readers are so adamantly pro-business and anti-socialism in other arenas. The problems described in the article are absolutely typical of 'free enterprise' systems. The business will exclude competition, lie about its services or products, work to raise fees and in every way work to maximize profits. It is the duty of private corporations to do these things. So please, next time someone suggests that government intervene to stop such abuses or that we band together to create our own government owned monopoly to provide basic things, remember experiences with 'free enterprise' such as COX.

yin yang Dec 31, 2019 11:39 PM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

Thank you. To complainers who want an alternative (as I too would like), what company do you have in mind? What is their profit motive to come here? Can they compete w/Cox, and how? Maybe the city does play a large enough role to affect this. In that case we can have some effect. Or if there is no company interested, the only way to affect Cox is to quit their services. Completely. Who is likely to do that? We didn't for tv, why would we for internet access?! Next, figure out what role state, and more important, federal policy, has on the possibility of competition. Ready to research and try to change fed policy with, to start, the FCC, maybe the FTC, and maybe the Commerce dept.? No? Me Neither. They got me over a barrel. I got enough on my plate working with with issues I know something about and have a small chance of affecting, like some specifics of health care policy, some specific civil rights issues, some specific criminal justice issues, and voter registration and protection.
Please do fight Cox and monopolies, I'll support you! But be realistic about what it takes.

yin yang Dec 31, 2019 11:43 PM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

Ha ha ha! As we all argue and bitch about Cox while USING THEIR SERVICE TO DO SO! Want to make a difference? Go off the grid. And guess what -- it won't matter; won't make a difference. Corporatocracy rules.

Luvaduck Dec 31, 2019 08:55 AM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

Internet access has become what telephone access was in the last century, should be classified and treated as a utility and broken up as ATT was. The only excuse for this is political corruption at every level.

yin yang Dec 31, 2019 11:52 PM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

I thought the excuse was capitalism. It took decades to break up AT&T, and in my limited understanding, there were slightly separate or area companies already, that could be spun off. I could easily be wrong.

mtndriver Dec 31, 2019 08:58 AM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

We pay almost $100/mo for internet only from Cox, no tv. Download speed just now 150mbps, upload about 12. That’s fine for us. They are constantly trying to sell us up to a new modem or a higher speed service or some other something we don’t need or want.
Who owns the cables? Is it Cox? If the city contracted with a new provider, would they have to buy the existing infrastructure? Or add new cable? Or what? I can see the start up costs could be huge, and who would be paying for those, I wonder? Subscribers is my guess. How much is cable service in areas served by Comcast? What do people say about other internet service providers? I’d like to hear from people who have experience with other providers. Cox is awful, but what company isn’t??

yin yang Jan 01, 2020 12:47 AM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

Here's one real-life discussion of Comcast cost issues. I didn't read it. I assume it's fundamentally similar to all discussions of ISP's. ;-) Happy New Year! //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

TWOSCOOPS Dec 31, 2019 10:07 AM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

Cox Communications Headquarters, Inc., 1400 Lake Hearn Dr., Atlanta GA 30319, (404) 843-5000. Board of Directors, w/photos: "Cox Enterprises began in 1898 when three-term Ohio Governor James M. Cox bought what is now The Dayton Daily News. Today, Cox Enterprises is a leading communications and automotive services company. The company remains privately held, with independent board members. Cox Enterprises’ board includes three generations of Cox family members: Anne Cox Chambers, Jim Kennedy, Alex Taylor, Jamie Kennedy and Henry Parry-Okeden. Based in Atlanta, Cox Enterprises has more than $20 billion in revenue and approximately 55,000 employees."

a-1577820342 Dec 31, 2019 11:25 AM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

Cox is a monopoly. I wrote congressman Carbajal about this. The last I checked he receives $10,000 a year for his campaigns. Nothing has ever been done how about this Monopoly. It is discrimination when the internet costs money. Internet access should always be free. It is a necessity for survival in today's world. No politicians, local, state or federal, have ever done anything to stop this cash cow Monopoly. It's a shame how the real issues are completely ignored by government.

a-1577820665 Dec 31, 2019 11:31 AM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

I wrote congressman Carbajal about this Monopoly. No response, the last time I checked he was receiving $10,000 a year from Cox. This is a case where government needs to intervene. Internet should be free. It is discrimination that people have to pay for basic survival necessities..

yacht rocked Dec 31, 2019 09:13 PM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

We need another ISP to provide competition. Why should Cox have an exclusive monopoly - their infrastructure has been paid for more than a few times over by now. So CalEdison has fiber along all the main electrical arteries to monitor the local electrical switches and gear, and they lease excess 'dark fiber' to others. Let another company or SCE use that fiber to bring competition to Cox here!

pxn Dec 31, 2019 10:40 PM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

So what can we do to end the monopoly. City government wants to keep it. We either need to elect representatives committed to end it or put the issue on the ballot. Can we do that folks? First can someone volunteer a legal note on our options?...please

yin yang Jan 01, 2020 12:22 AM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

What is a "legal note"? Again, first step is research on anti-trust law, then on the current situation here (the state or half the state), which leads to options -- if there are any. Who has money to fund such a study and where is any motive besides outrage to do so? As noted earlier, what is the motive for a competitor to come into our area? Do we want Comcast? Their customer service complaints are notorious nationwide for decades. Ah, maybe they can fight each other to serve us! Ah Ha! Could there be collusion? Or are they both just happy sucking the teats of their respective service areas? Can we force two companies to compete in S. CA? Which leads us, again, to federal (national) intervention in commerce. Thus the involvement of federal agencies, etc. etc. Even if it gets sttarted it will take decades. I'm more worried about the issue of whether "platforms" are "publishers" or whatever the heck the terminology is. I'm more worried about misinformation from whomever and wherever in the 2020 election.

yin yang Jan 01, 2020 12:41 AM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

Sorry, I left out the other, among many, "first" step of research: the economics of the entire endeavor. And evaluation of current and future required infrastructure. (Lots of good ideas here on this Edhat thread! But we don't truly know.) And the quickly-developing tech for connection infrastructure and the ramifications for when and how to expand, whichever company does so.
I'm sure I left out many more issues. They're all legal issues to be fought over for decades, IF there were any monetary reward for another mega-corporation besides Cox to fight to service our territory. And my thoughts are coming from someone whose career emphasis is in non-profits and health care. Get real, people, think about things, don't just react!

Westover Jan 01, 2020 12:47 PM
Cox Communications Accused of Fixing Internet Speed Scores

We elected the people who set things up allowing Cox their cable franchise. Government could have allowed or encouraged more than one cable provider. Would another cable provider have been interested in this market, another question. It may be too expensive to build out a wired competing network now. Likely technology will bring real competition in time as 5G gets rolled out, at least for other communities. It is unrealistic to expect broadband to be as inexpensive in Santa Barbara as some other communities. Santa Barbara is an expensive community to have a business in and to deploy infrastructure. When you have just one provider of any service, it makes sense that it can very frustrating, hard to say I'm leaving for brand X when they let you down. I had a Verizon tech tell me that way back Verizon was interested in making Santa Barbara a fiber test city, they decided it was too much trouble working with the local governments. This story I was told may of may not have been accurate. Given the hoops and expense of building anything in Santa Barbara, one could see why Verizon or any one thinking of building out a network to every home would have said, pass. Could Cox be a better service provider, of course. Could government make it easier for competitors to enter the market, that too.

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