FCC Plans Study to Measure Broadband Speeds

June 2, 2010 - 8:38 AM
The FCC is seeking 10,000 volunteers to take part in a study of residential broadband speeds to see if broadband providers are delivering Internet connections that are as fast as advertised.
Washington (AP) - The Federal Communications Commission wants to find out whether broadband providers are delivering Internet connections that are as fast as advertised.
 
The FCC is seeking 10,000 volunteers to take part in a study of residential broadband speeds. Specialized equipment will be installed in homes across the country to measure Internet connections. Those results will then be compared with advertised speeds. The agency hopes to get a cross section of volunteers who subscribe to broadband services provided by a range of phone and cable TV companies.
 
The new project grows out of several proposals outlined in the FCC's national broadband plan, released in March. The plan calls for the government to collect, analyze and publish detailed information, market by market, on broadband pricing and competition. The plan also recommends that the government require broadband providers to disclose information about pricing and performance.
 
"The big issue here is knowing what you are paying for," said Joel Gurin, who heads the FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau.
 
According to data cited in the national broadband plan, average residential download speeds are typically only half as fast as the maximum speeds advertised by U.S. broadband providers.
 
Meanwhile, survey results released by the FCC on Tuesday found that while 91 percent of broadband users say they are at least somewhat satisfied with their home connection speeds, 80 percent of broadband users do not know how fast their home connections are.
 
The survey, based on phone interviews with more than 3,000 adults from April 19 to May 2, found that 71 percent of mobile broadband users are at least somewhat satisfied with their connection speeds.
 
The FCC will summarize its findings on home broadband connections in a report later this year. The commission is also seeking input on ways to measure mobile broadband speeds.
 
The agency already offers several online tools to let consumers get a more basic reading of their home broadband speeds at http://www.broadband.gov/qualitytest/about/
 
Broadband subscribers who want to participate in the FCC's new study can register at http://www.TestMyISP.com.