The FCC Wants You! (to Test Your Broadband Speed)

The Federal Communications Commission today released results of a broadband survey which found that 80 percent of the 3,035 respondents don’t know the actual broadband speed to their homes, yet 91 percent are “very” or “somewhat” satisfied by the speeds. To that end, the FCC is continuing with previously announced plans to deploy hardware from SamKnows Ltd. that measures actual connection speeds in the homes of volunteers. The FCC is looking to mobilize an army of 10,000 recruits around the country — consumers can apply for admission to the test at a special website that’s now live.

I like the FCC’s hardware approach better than the strategy of speed testing over a web connection. The prior software method, provided by Ookla, often returns widely varying results for my 20 Mbps home FiOS connection. The results are dependent on the server used for testing and based on a single activity during a snapshot in time. In contrast, the hardware approach will place a box between a consumer’s home network and a provider’s network to measure the constant end-user throughput from the Internet service provider. All activities, including audio downloads, video streaming and basic web browsing, will be captured by the hardware over time, offering more accurate results.

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Image courtesy of Flickr user pfly

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