Delivering What We Say: Transparency in Internet Speeds

Chris Sambar, President – AT&T Network
November 11, 2022

Delivering What We Say: Transparency in Internet Speeds

Recently we’ve seen comparisons about the need for Americans to have internet access speed measurements to be as accurate as when people buy a gallon of milk or gas. AT&T has done a tremendous amount of work to help ensure our customers understand the connectivity they buy from us, but unfortunately sending bits of data across the world wide web is not as precise as pouring liquid into a measurement cup.

Four things are true about both the wired (think home and business broadband) and wireless (phones and other mobile devices) service we offer:

  • We deliver what we say – We are clear and upfront about what customers can expect from our network. We post and regularly update the upload and download speeds and latency numbers that our customers are likely to see on our different wired and wireless technologies and service tiers. We also explain in detail how we calculate our numbers and how customers might see their own performance fluctuate in different circumstances. (See for more details.)
  • We make it easy for customers to hold us accountable – We encourage all of our customers to download and use our Smart Home Manager app to manage screen time and user access, track data usage by device, test their internet speeds, and more. If the service isn’t performing as expected, Smart Home Manager has tools to assist customers in improving their own experience or to contact us for harder-to-solve issues.
  • Fast, reliable connectivity is what people want – We’re combining the most reliable 5G network with the fastest growing fiber internet in America. The reliability claim is based on third party data testing performed nationally by GWS. GWS conducts paid drive tests for AT&T and uses the data in its analysis. The fiber internet growth claim is based on publicly available data of net customer adds for major fiber providers over previous four quarters. These services give Americans seamless connectivity in their homes, offices, and everywhere in between.
  • Broadband speeds depend on many factors – It is impossible to guarantee precise download and upload speeds in your home and on your phone. Factors ranging from the distance your signal travels, to the capabilities of the computer hosting the data you’re requesting, to the Wi-Fi capabilities of the device you’re using to access the internet all matter. Anyone telling you they can guarantee a precise number of megabits or gigabits per second in all use cases isn’t being honest.

There is another metaphor for broadband speed that’s a lot more accurate and useful: gas mileage. Car makers tell you roughly what mileage you can expect in city and highway driving. We know chugging up a mountain while towing a trailer or coasting down a gentle hill can drive the numbers up or down. But the numbers generally average out over time to the figures posted on the window sticker.

Reliable network performance is a huge undertaking. We spend billions of dollars a year including $24 billion in 2022, building, expanding, upgrading, and maintaining our networks. We invest in artificial intelligence to weed out spam, robocalls, and cyber-attacks before they ever reach our customers. We develop software to optimize how data traffic is routed and balanced across the country and across the world. And we collaborate with trade groups and other organizations to develop the next generation of broadband technologies so capacity can stay ahead of the surging demand for data. All that work delivers a great experience. But your experience traveling on the Internet is going to vary depending on how you travel, where you travel and what you travel on. For example, if your device is 5 years old, it may not be the same as someone using a device they purchased in the last year. There are factors out of our control. What we do control is transparency and the part of the network we build and maintain.

Transparency is important. Understanding the inner workings of the Internet and how information is sent and received is just as important. We know the FCC is planning to implement “broadband nutrition labels” which will complement the work we already do to help customers understand internet speeds, prices, and data capacity. We’re proud of how we match up against our competitors, and we’re ready and eager to continue to help customers choose the best broadband option for their needs.

We’re full steam ahead on building broadband connectivity that allows you to buy more with the click of a button.

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