Federal Communications Commission

More on Transparency and Competition

March 15th, 2010 by Peter Bowen - Applications Director, Omnibus Broadband Initiative

On Friday, the FCC asked for bids on a contract to measure broadband performance in roughly 10,000 homes to scientifically understand broadband performance across America. (Read the Request for Quotation).  The contract would likely involve installation of a measurement device in the homes of volunteers, using a representative set of connections to help identify how different networks and technologies perform at different times of day, across different parts of the network, under different conditions and using different testing methods. The test will focus on how speeds (maximums, averages and other) and performance characteristics (latency, availability, etc.) change and vary in these circumstances. The end goal is to provide better insight into the metrics that consumers and network designers care about most.

And the best part? Once aggregated with sufficient privacy protections, the FCC will make this data available online and in a published report, to allow others to see and use the results as they like.

This is just one of the many steps the FCC is taking to increase transparency for consumers on broadband speeds and performance. As the National Broadband Plan rolls out, we look forward to continued input from all interested parties on how we can continuously refine our approach. Last week, the FCC launched two new helpful tools for broadband mapping and performance testing, which received many comments. What do these tools do? They allow users to access a point in time view of their speeds to a server on the network. They also allow the FCC to collect data on where broadband is available. Already over 250,000 fixed speed tests have been run by Americans, which means we have been able to gather privacy-protected data on 250,000 locations throughout the country for understanding broadband availability.

And we recognize what this test does not do. (See the “About” section). It is a user-sourced, point-in-time test that helps educate consumers to a point. Unlike the RFQ described above, this test can be impacted by many things, such as consumers with slow computers or Wi-Fi networks, by long distances to testing servers and by general internet congestion that is beyond any one group’s control. It also cannot account for what a user might experience on an ongoing basis, such as while watching a video or conducting a videoconference. So it is not the full solution, but rather one small part of it.

Going forward, we encourage interested parties to continue feedback on our consumer transparency and mapping initiatives. We expect to roll-out additional initiatives with a focus on disclosure obligations that give consumers the right information at the right time to make the right decisions (for them). Transparency and consumer information are critical inputs to helping spur competition in our networks and enriching our broadband ecosystem.

2 Responses to “More on Transparency and Competition”

  1. Guest Gadema Korboi Quoquoi says:

    The Engine of Economic Growth in this 21st Century is "Broadband." We must used some Stimulus Funds, in combination with a 50/50 Joint Venture Investment,between the Government and the Private Sector, to Build Smart Infrastructure Services for: Broadband, Healthcare IT, Smart Grids, and Smart Transportation Systems. This Investment (i, e, it may Cost up to $300 Billions) will enabled New Jobs Creation and Economic Recovery.

    BROADBAND SERVICES - We can start by, Deploying a pure Packet-based, All Opptical/IP, Multi-Service National TRANSPORT (BackHaul) Network Infrastructure,using Optical Ethernet throughout this Nationwide "Network of Networks." This Connect All Optical Islands, Nationwide.

    This Investment in this National "Network of Networks", in addition to New Jobs Creation and Economic Recovery, can also Serve as a Business Driver for: e-Government, Law Enforcement (FOP), BioSurveillance, e-Commerce, e-ucation, e-Healthcare, Socisal Networking, Intelligent Energy and Transportation Systems, Entertainment, etc. This Investment is like the Investments made in past, in ERA, TVA, and the National Transportation Inter-State Highways, which Increased Productivity and our GDP.

    Please See: for NHIN Summary Deployment Plan.

  2. Guest says:

    I have an idea, rewind time and fit cable to every underground conduit into every home that can accomodate 1gb broadband. Oops - too late, have to use telephone wires??? Well that sucks.
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