Federal Communications Commission

Sign up to Shape the Future of Broadband

June 1st, 2010 by Dave Vorhaus - Expert Advisor, Economic Opportunity

Last month, we announced that the FCC had selected a third-party vendor to help conduct a scientific, hardware-based test of actual broadband speeds and performance delivered by ISPs to consumers’ homes. Along with our partner, SamKnows, we aim to provide greater transparency in the broadband market by gathering and publishing information on the service consumers get, rather than simply what is advertised. We’ll be measuring upload and download speeds, but also other important characteristics of broadband performance such as latency, jitter, availability, packet loss and more. This effort represents the first scientific, hardware-based, national test of broadband performance. 

Now that we’ve finished crossing the Ts and dotting the Is, we are ready to begin recruiting volunteers to help us with this critically important effort. The FCC and SamKnows will be constructing a panel of 10,000 volunteers that will form the Broadband Community that is the basis for this study. We’d like to encourage everyone that is interested to go to and sign up to participate. Don’t be fooled by the URL though; this is not your run-of-the-mill online speed test. After we have recruited a panel that runs the gamut of geographies, service providers and broadband packages, we will be shipping every selected participant a customized router that can be easily connected to your existing in-home network.

Once that hardware device is connected, you are off and running! This custom router will test your broadband performance at regular intervals, all day, every day, throughout the course of this study. Each participant will also be given access to a unique page with their individual broadband performance statistics, so you can see whether what you are getting matches what you are paying for. And in the aggregate, these data will be used to provide valuable information to the FCC, ISPs and the general public about how our broadband networks are performing across the country. Along with other items on the FCC’s Broadband Action Agenda that are improving data collection and transparency, this is a critical step in fostering competition and maximizing consumer benefits across the broadband ecosystem.

If this sounds like something you would like to be apart of, please sign-up as a volunteer for the panel.

14 Responses to “Sign up to Shape the Future of Broadband”

  1. Dave says:

    Thanks to everyone for the great comments and to those that have already signed up, it is exciting to hear that there are so many people interested in helping the FCC with this important effort!

    There have been a number of questions about how to volunteer. Anyone that is interested in participating should go to The sign-up page is right there, just fill in a couple of simple fields and we'll get back to you!

    Also, in regards to questions about specific providers and network configurations, our aim is to include all the major providers of various fixed access technologies (DSL, cable, fiber, fixed wireless) in the initial volunteer panel of 10,000. We will ultimately select a cross section from all of these providers, so everyone is eligible to participate. The initial testing with 10,000 volunteers will run for roughly six months, and then the FCC will evaluate if and how to expand the project, both in terms of number of volunteers and length of time.

  2. SteveB in Alabama says:

    This is perfect so I signed up today. I have an ISP that seems to stay in rural areas to avoid competition and you get what they give you. Advertised speeds of 12Mbps yet streaming video is not something viewable. I hope one day these isp's will be held accountable for what they advertise. I don't care if they say up to a certain speed. If that is the case then the bill should be up to as well.

  3. W Keay says:

    Signed up!

    For those looking for the link, it is just above this sections banner "...Responses to ..." , in the last sentence - "sign-up."

  4. Guest says:

    Is your custom router also compatible with ATT Uverse networks?

  5. Martha Huizenga says:

    Interesting that you've decided on a limit of 10,000 volunteers. Is that due to the custom router that will be shipped? Will there be a limit of the number from one particular ISP? What if all 10,000 sign up from the same one?
    How are you getting the word out to the non-technical folks. I would imagine that most of the people following the blog or tweets are technical people.

  6. Clarence Bobikewicz says:

    I volunteer

  7. Bill yonkers says:

    The real question is if you are using a dedicated router, how do you prevent the ISPs from tweaking the test either slowing down the connection to the rated speed or speeding up the connection to insure the report matches the rates the consumer is paying for.

    I know I am getting more than i am paying for already.

  8. Dave in NC says:

    Bravo to the FCC for attempting to get a true picture of national broadband availability that's not based on the lies of the corporate ISP duopolists. Most other countries in Europe and Asia have much faster speeds at lower prices. The US needs to mandate backbone sharing to open up true competition, and states need to repeal laws written by ISP lobbyists which prohibit municipal internet utilities even if everyone but the duopolists would benefit from lower prices and faster speeds.

  9. E J Mitchell says:

    I volunteer

  10. D Blankenship says:

    I currently use the AT&T U-verse residential gateway for internet, TV, and land line telephone. How does your router fit into such a system? Where will I see an answer to this question?

  11. D Blankenship says:

    Depending on the answer to my previous question, I would be willing to participate in your program evaluation.

  12. Guest says:

    I am willing to volunteer for the testing.
    Had my service up-graded and it is worse than what I had.
    Am a senior citizen trying to keep up with basic technology.
    I believe we are being over charged.
    How do I sign up?

  13. J Ball says:

    How long is the testing going to happen?

  14. Take Mine - PLEASE says:

    I spent many hours trying to get the hunk o' junk they sent to actually work. In the process I was pretty much thoroughly insulted - "it's simple - anyone can set this up" - which of course would be true had the device I got have been functional. I happen to be an Electrical Engineer and know a thing or three, but alas, it was all my fault and I should just have tried harder or something I guess. Anyway, if any problems arise the instructions are useless, and there's virtually zero tech support. I was enthusiastic at the outset but now I'd suggest steering completely clear of this deal. The "partner" is doing a horrible job at best, and no one at the FCC appears to be concerned in the least about this.

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