Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Volunteer - FCC Broadband Study and Initiatives - Test Your ISP

I write fairly frequently about broadband in the U.S. - especially the lack of bandwidth when compared to other countries. Today the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released some interesting survey results. Abt/SRBI and Princeton Survey Research Associates, International interviewed 3,005 American adults between April 19 to May 2, 2010. The survey used a random digit dial survey and was conducted in English and Spanish. The sample included both landline and cell phones.

Here's some details from a June 1, 2010 FCC press release:

  • 80 percent of broadband users in the United States do not know the speed of their broadband connection - 71 percent of men do not know what speed they’re getting, while the figure is 90 percent for women.
  • With respect to age, 73 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 29 do not know their home broadband speed, while the number goes up to 88 percent of people age 65 and over.
  • Most Americans are satisfied with the broadband speed they are getting - 91 percent of broadband users say they are “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with the speed they get at home.
Regarding mobile connectivity:
  • The comparable number for mobile broadband, which is not yet technologically capable of the same speeds as home broadband, is 71 percent satisfaction. As a point of comparison, 92 percent of cell phone users are very or somewhat satisfied with their cell phone service overall.
In addition, the FCC Consumer Task Force announced two initiatives that will help collect broadband data:

Initiative 1:

The FCC is asking for 10,000 volunteers to participate in a scientific study to measure home broadband speed in the U.S. 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 that successfully conducted a similar test in the United Kingdom. A Public Notice asking for comment on the test plan was released in April 2010 and can be found at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-10-670A1.pdf.

This study will culminate in a “State of Broadband” report to be released later this year. The tests are also a key part of the Broadband Action Agenda (described at http://www.broadband.gov/plan/broadband-action-agenda.html). The Action Agenda details a number of initiatives designed to foster competition and maximize consumer benefits across the broadband marketplace.

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.

Initiative 2:

The FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau is issuing a Public Notice today to look at ways to measure mobile broadband speed. More and more consumers are using mobile wireless devices to access the Web, sometimes as a primary Internet connection. The Public Notice asks for input on the best ways to measure mobile broadband speeds, the ways that speed measurements can be used to help improve service, and the information consumers should have about the speed of mobile broadband coverage.

The FCC welcomes comments from all interested parties and the general public on this Public Notice. Comments can be filed through the agency’s Electronic Comment Filing System at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/ecfs/, or in other ways described in the Public Notice itself. The Public Notice can be found at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-10- 988A1.pdf .

I've signed up as a volunteer for the first initiative and am reviewing the second initiative public notice - and recommend you do to!

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