Virulent Word of Mouse

June 1, 2010

How fast is your broadband? Help the FCC find out!

Filed under: Internet economics and communications policy,Short observations — Shane Greenstein @ 2:07 pm

Surveys have shown for some time that most people have no idea how fast (or slow) their broadband is. As it turns out, neither does the US government.

Today, the Consumer Task Force announced an initiative. The FCC is asking today for 10,000 volunteers to participate in a scientific study to measure home broadband speed in the U.S.

Here is what their announcement said: “Specialized hardware will be installed in the homes of volunteers to measure the performance of all the country’s major Internet service providers across geographic regions and service tiers.  The FCC is partnering with SamKnows Limited in this effort (the same firm conducted a similar test in the United Kingdom).”

Here is the relevant Public Notice: http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-10-670A1.pdf. The results will end up in a “State of Broadband” report.

Anyone can register as a volunteer for this national test at www.TestMyISP.com. Volunteers will be able to track the performance of their own broadband service, as well as providing valuable data for the FCC, Internet service providers, and the public at large.

I think this is a great initiative. While adoption of broadband is important for many households, it is no longer an issue for a significant fraction of households. Rather, the quality of the network is the most important feature. Instead of just complaining about the quality of the network the FCC decided to take the initiative and measure something.

Good to see some imaginative and entrepreneurial energy out of this agency. Give them some credit.

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