Broadband Speeds Across New York Are Advertised As A Fast 25 Mega Bits Per Second; But New Data Shows That Fed Mapping On Coverage & Speed -- Which Relies On Carriers To Self-Report -- Is Very Wrong & Demands Scrutiny

From The Boroughs, To Manhattan, & Across Long Island, More Than 4.7 Million Appear To Be Paying For High Speed & Getting Something Far Slower

Schumer: New Yorkers Paying For Lighting-Speed Internet & Getting A Snail’s Pace Are At A Net Loss All Around  

On the heels of an all too rosy report on broadband coverage delivered last week by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and with a new independent report on broadband internet speed in hand, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer is singling out specific New York data that shows slow internet speed is likely plaguing roughly 4.7 million New Yorkers in the City and Long Island alone. Schumer, today, said that a recent report by Microsoft calls into question the way by which the FCC reports on broadband coverage, collects the information that delivers the data, and regulates broadband provider’s advertising of internet speeds.  Schumer is urging the FCC and providers to take corrective action that ensures accurate reporting and better coverage, which translates into fairer price. Schumer also announced that Tim Wu, Professor at Columbia Law School and ‘New Neutrality’ pioneer, has backed his push today.

“While we live in an era of faster and faster, the reality of internet speed across New York is that it may move more like molasses than lighting,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

"The cable and phone companies have routinely deceived the public when it comes to the broadband speeds they promise and what they deliver. And unfortunately the FCC has been complicit in this deception for many years. Senator Schumer is right to demand that the FCC stop working for industry and start doing its job,” said Tim Wu, Professor at Columbia Law School and "Net Neutrality" pioneer.

Schumer is urging the FCC to conduct a thorough review into the huge disparity between the provider-supplied data and the data generated by specific households and their internet devices via this study. Specifically, Schumer is calling into question federal policy that allows providers to account for areas where they are not actually providing service. In fact, service providers can use the coverage of one household in a census block to account for coverage throughout the entire area. The FCC then uses this faulty data, which is self-reported by providers to the agency, to assess the state of broadband access in America and complete its annual broadband report. Schumer wants the FCC and providers to take corrective action that ensures accurate reporting and better coverage, which translates into fairer price.  

“The FCC needs to account for the massive disparity in reported speeds and the real frustration of many New Yorkers who are at a net loss all around when their internet service is slow, possibly paying for speeds that are not as advertised and losing out on their own productivity. The bottom line here is that if this is a problem in New York City, then this is a real issue across America,” Schumer added.

Broadband is a transmission technique that enables a large number of messages to be communicated simultaneously. Broadband speed is important, because the faster your internet is, the more you can do online. It also means more people can use the internet at the same time without affecting each other’s consumption. Because of its high access speeds, broadband internet service is the most used form of internet access. 25 megabits per second (mbps) is the minimum broadband speed for downloads as defined by the FCC.

The discrepancy between the FCC’s and Microsoft’s broadband data is particularly relevant in New York City and Long Island. The FCC reports that the percentage of people who don’t use internet at broadband speeds in NYC and Long Island counties is less than 1%. However, the recent study shows a massive disparity in those numbers. 

The following table shows how the FCC’s findings massively underestimate the actual percentage of people without access to high speed internet:


% of people without true broadband or slower than acceptable internet speeds according to FCC

% of people without true broadband or slower than acceptable internet speeds according to study

New York City





61% or 894,000



55% or 1,500,000



36% or 592,000 people



48% or 1,100,000 people

Staten Island


50% or 242,000 people

Long Island



Nassau County


9% or 125,000 people

Suffolk County


20% or 311,000 people



4,764,000 New Yorkers

According to Microsoft’s study, about 162.8 million Americans do not use the internet at acceptable or advertised broadband speeds, an estimate that is far greater than the FCC’s estimate of 24.7 million people without broadband access. In New York, Microsoft estimates that 8.7 million people are not using true high-speed internet, as opposed to the FCC’s estimate of 400,000 people. Rural communities are at the biggest disadvantage, often relying on coverage that does not exceed 25 megabits per second (mbps). 

Microsoft’s study also found that counties with the highest unemployment have the lowest broadband access. In the past five years, $22 billion in subsidies and grants have been given to telecom companies to improve broadband coverage in rural America, although these efforts have not resulted in any effective outcomes.

Each year, the FCC completes a Broadband Deployment Report to assess improvements in consumer access to broadband. The 2019 Report that was released just last week and it indicates that nearly 18% more Americans have access to broadband than the previous year. However, Schumer said that the clear gaps in coverage highlighted by the FCC’s reporting methods call into question the findings of the recent report and the agency’s progress in truly closing the digital divide.


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