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Internet users get state help on speed

So just how fast is that Internet speed you signed up for? Is it really as good as your Internet provider promised?

Those are questions that a new state website announced Sunday hopes to answer for New Yorkers, who can now put their service to the test. By logging on to internethealthtest.org, Web users can determine whether their service is all that it’s cracked up to be.

“New Yorkers should get the Internet speeds they pay for. Too many of us may be paying for one thing, and getting another,” said Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, whose office is launching the new site. “By conducting these tests, consumers can uncover whether they are receiving the Internet speeds they have paid for.”

Schneiderman’s staff has constructed the new site for Internet consumers to determine their “throughput” speeds – the speeds by which customers reach content. After logging on and following the instructions, the user can submit a screenshot of the results.

Schneiderman spokesman Nick Benson said Sunday that the website immediately analyzes Internet speed provided by the consumer’s service.

“In real time, it will tell you the Internet speed you are currently experiencing,” he said, adding that any screenshots submitted could be used in the attorney general’s investigation of service statewide.

Benson also said the new service results from consumer complaints about Internet speeds not matching provider assurances.

The test was devised after the attorney general contacted Internet providers in October seeking documents that indicate the number of customers receiving various levels of Internet services, disclosures made to actual or potential broadband customers concerning actual or expected Internet speeds, and other information related to speeds and interconnection agreements.

In the October letters sent to Time Warner Cable, Verizon and Cablevision, the Attorney General’s Office expressed concern about the effectiveness of their services relating to interconnection arrangements with other networks.

“We are specifically concerned about disruptions in the consumer experience caused by interconnection disputes, and also the possibility that interconnection arrangements may in some instances render irrelevant any benefit of paying for a ‘premium’ option,” Senior Enforcement Counsel Tim Wu said in his letter to Verizon.

Although he did not threaten legal action, Wu reminded Verizon of the attorney general’s power to subpoena information connected to “any activity that may be deceptive, fraudulent or illegal.”

“The attorney general has the authority to commence legal action to enjoin deceptive, fraudulent or illegal business practices,” Wu added, “and to obtain restitution, penalties and costs.”

The new website drew praise from consumer groups such as Common Cause/NY.

“No individual New Yorker acting alone can influence the giant telecom companies that control broadband in our state,” Executive Director Susan Lerner said, “so the attorney general’s investigation is very welcome and we look forward to helping gather the necessary data.”

email: rmccarthy@buffnews.com