Federal Communications Commission

Consumer transparency- knowing your speed and performance matters!

November 25th, 2009 by Peter Bowen - Applications Director, Omnibus Broadband Initiative

Do you know what kind of speed and performance you get from your broadband service today? Do you know what most Americans get? And if you knew, what would you do with that information? Who else would benefit from this information? How should broadband performance be tracked, reported and shared while protecting consumer privacy?
These are all critical questions as we tackle a National Broadband Plan. On Tuesday, the broadband team launched our 25th public notice, entitled “Broadband measurement and consumer transparency of fixed residential and small business services in the United States.” A nice, short title.
This notice focuses on the broadband services that households and small businesses subscribe to today, and how to increase transparency and track performance of those services. To that goal, it addresses three primary areas:
Consumer transparency
  • How should we think about the way that information about new and existing broadband service is displayed and communicated? 
  • Is this information comparable from one service offering to another?
  • How do we ensure privacy of consumer information?
Measurement, tracking and reporting
  • How should we augment existing data to track, measure and report broadband service performance across the nation?
  • What are the most useful pieces of performance information for consumers, researchers, service providers and regulators?
  • How should performance be measured?
  • What are the benefits and what are the costs of measurement?
Multi-unit building transparency
  • How should we increase transparency of broadband services offered for multi-unit residential and commercial buildings?

Answering these questions will help identify ways to educate broadband consumers, a goal everyone agrees is in the best interests of the country. Striking the right balance on depth of information, communication, privacy, display and cost effectiveness will be difficult, but we intend to find the right path. We need your input and thoughts on new ways of thinking that empower consumers.

4 Responses to “Consumer transparency- knowing your speed and performance matters!”

  1. Guest says:

    Just for the sake of information, I measured the speed of my broadband using from your site and then went directly to their site and repeated it. I got about 14 Mbps on your site and 10 Mbps on the speedtest site. I live in Kent, Connecticut and have Charter Communications as my cable provider. I measured to the same location. Clearly your test is being biased by the provider.

  2. Guest says:

    Performance should be measured for actual throughput, Void of any 'enhancement' i.e: PowerBoost and the like. Using Flash Speedtests are erroneous at best due to server caching, ISP 'whitelisting' of those 'ISP preferred' test sites, Flash delivery is more easily manipulated using various techniques such as "SpeedScreen Multimedia Acceleration, which leverages client-side resources to greatly improve server scalability and provide a just-like-local user experience for a long list of media types" thus contributing to an illusion that ISP speeds are actually good.. Take a popular Flash speedtest site such as Typically from my end shows a 12ms ping time. Actually ping from the command line and it shows an average of 88ms (I just did this test to show my point) Most accurate tests for throughput I have found are Downloading larger files 100MB or better from fast servers such as I FTP to my website which is ALL Comcast network till it hits the Planet Group Gateway then to the server my site is hosted on. Very accurate for test actual throughput for me and eliminates the ISP excuse 'It's not on our network'

  3. Guest says:

    Thanks for the focus on consumer transparency. What sources of information are available now?

  4. Guest says:

    Speed and performance varies widely depending on the carrier or provider. I recently grade my services and found after testing that I actually lost peformance even though this was done with the same carrier that I was using for services. Now they are offering High Speed FIber in my neighborghood which is advertised at a much less cost then what I just upgraded to 3 months ago. This is a critical problem when applying for a BTOP Grant under the Rural Broadband Stimulus Inititiative where the carriers advertise 3 Mbps and deliver maybe 19.2 Kbps at peak times. Aside from false advertising the Grant becomes less viable when the current provider for a rural area truly does not deliver the advertised throughput. A typical PC will almost always show the connections speed at 100 Mbps due totally to the interface connection. What are people paying for and how will the broadband stimulus package adress truth in advertising.

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