After a survey shows most of us don't know just how quick our Web connection is, the agency is asking for 10,000 volunteers to do some at-home testing — because 'speed matters.'
By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times
9:34 AM PDT, June 1, 2010
Four out of five users of high-speed Internet in the United States don't know how fast their connections are, according to a survey released Tuesday by the Federal Communications Commission.
To help resolve that problem, the agency said it was seeking 10,000 volunteers who would have special hardware installed at home to measure the speed of their broadband Internet service as part of a nationwide, scientific study of the performance of major providers.
"Speed matters," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. "The more broadband subscribers know about what speeds they need and what speeds they get, the more they can make the market work and push faster speeds over broadband networks."
The survey of 3,005 adults conducted in April and May asked simply if people knew the advertised speed of their home Internet connection, with 80% saying they did not. The survey also found that 24% of people believed they always got the advertised speed they were promised by their Internet service provider, and 67% thought they always should get what they're promised.
Internet service providers usually hedge their promises, advertising speeds up to a certain rate of data, usually measured in megabits per second. That's because various factors affect speed, including the quality of a person's computer and Internet router, as well as how many people in the home are surfing the Web at any given time.
Because of that, the FCC is seeking volunteers to have hardware installed at home to gauge the speed of the Internet connection before it reaches the router or other equipment. The hardware will measure specific speed information as well, such as for video downloads and Internet phone calling.
People interested in volunteering for the study can apply at http://www.testmyisp.com. It will be conducted by SamKnows Ltd., which conducted a similar study in the United Kingdom.