Want to know how fast your broadband connection is? So does Uncle Sam. With a new volunteer program, now you can both find out.
The Federal Communications Commission is hoping 10,000 Americans will sign up for a service that monitors broadband use, giving users — and the government — data about speed, availability and technical topics like packet loss.
Appropriately, the FCC contracted with a firm called SamKnows to do the monitoring. Sign up here. The firm will put 10,000 special routers in homes across the country to measure Internet service provider performance.
Earlier this week, the FCC said (PDF) a whopping 80 percent of Americans have no idea what their Internet connection speed is. What's more, about 70 percent of Americans believe their ISP's claims about that speed -- when, in fact, it's often about half the advertised performance.
This is problematic for national broadband planning efforts, Ars Technica notes. Nobody really knows how fast broadband connections are and even what areas have broadband service. SamKnows' routers aim to answer those questions.
The routers will perform speed tests at regular intervals every day, and send the results to a data hub that will compile information about individual ISPs. Along with speed, the routers will test connection consumption -- how much data is sent and received -- and more wonky details like jitter, DNS query resolution and others.
As the program's Web site notes, most people think of ISP speed as the most important performance metric. But it really depends on how you use your Internet. Gamers, for instance, should be more concerned with things like latency and packet loss. SamKnows tests all of that, unlike other speed-monitoring services. The test data can reach up to 2 GB a month.
It's a win-win: Volunteers will get individualized reports sent through a customized Web dashboard, and the government will get loads of detailed data that could inform future ISP disclosure rules and national broadband policy.
The seeker of knowledge who seeks to reach beyond the stars to go where no mans gone before to see things no man has seen and bring these experiences back for the whole world to hear and see.
This is great absolutely wonderful america has crapy internet and i see so many people get riped off i am a computer speacialist amongst others but the whowle of this goal is great are internet infrastructure is old and in deep need of upgrade i suggest to all reading this article to sign up they cant collect any private data so dont worry sign up its so important you do so i can say 2 out of 4 of you is not getting what you paid for do want to keep getting riped off as a company steals your money and gives you crapy service so sign up and when this is finished you will have great internet i went to china a couple months back and i tell you their internet is 3 times better than are's.This is TrulyVisionary til next time cya.
I'm actually glad to see government step up and try to create some rules in the ISP world. it's very frustrating being only person among my family and friends who understands what speeds are, what latency is, what packet loss is, etc. No one i know understands these things only people i talk to on the internet... lol. And it's sad to see rest of world continue to get better and faster connection speeds and way better competitive speeds at competitive price marks, yet here if you do not live in a city your screwed, you have usually 1 choice of cable and dsl if your lucky and you'll end up paying $50 or more a month for a connection that is horrible, drops all time and if lucky get 5mbp/s, I'm glad my ISP finally updated their connections to next stop above 6mpb/s but that is highest i can get here.. and still pay $60 a month, while people who live a little further down street in town have much better options, yet still that's sad compared to cities or other countries.
And when you try to discuss this with anyone, no one knows what the heck your talking about. doesn't understand any of computer terms, and even if you want to do something about it, the only place you can call is your ISP and beg for change, do you really think they will do anything to improve their services when 80% of people are content and dont even know what they are paying for? I don't even bother.
what bothers me are the rumours i hear of the government trying to push through something about controlling what people say on the internet, i heard google is championing it too..not sure how much of it is true though..but its possible, since they already try and track everything else we do
i dont want to sound like a tech dweeb but with the onset of the ipad and other cool things, i woulda figured cheap, hispeed internet everywhere would be, by now, one of those things we take for granted
i wonder how long its going to take
It makes me uncomfortable for the government to be doing this while they are also trying to find a way to grab the power to shut down any private network for any reason to be defined later as an "emergency".
It makes me think they are trying to say those fat cat internet people are screwing you for speed because of greed etc. so you'll accept their control to stick it to the fat cats we hear so much about. That's been happening a lot lately.
Its about control. Its about money.
Why give you more when they can charge you less? (ATT and the recent announcement of the termination of the unlimited data plan highlights this point perfectly)
Why give you access to information when knowledge is power? (Why the Chineese government bans so many sites and the Austies want to regulate and filter etc.)
I love how the government wants to try to control a system it doesnt even own or operate nor does it even provide the service itself.
ThisNameTaken, the US government has every right to regulate the system. The FCC is well within long established legal bounds to monitor internet speeds to punish providers who are ripping off customers with false claims of performance or just poor performance in general.
I just knew when reading this there would be more paranoid government control whining going on. Only surprise is that no one has claimed they want the routers to monitor everything you do ever on the internet.