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Federal Communications Commission



The Appetite for Measuring Broadband Service

June 7th, 2010 by Dave Vorhaus - Expert Advisor, Economic Opportunity

Last week, we announced that the FCC has begun recruiting volunteers for a landmark study of broadband performance in consumers’ homes. In conjunction with our partner, SamKnows, we launched the website www.testmyisp.com to inform people of the project and solicit volunteers. Individuals that are selected for the panel will be provided with a free, state-of-the-art custom router for their home network, secure access to all of their personal broadband performance data, and the opportunity to shape the future of broadband in America.

I am pleased to announce that the support we have gotten for this initiative thus far has been overwhelming. In less than a week, nearly 20,000 people have already volunteered! Moreover, major media outlets have taken note of this effort and its importance in the broadband marketplace. This is a clear indication that consumers are clamoring for more transparency and disclosure of broadband services, and that there is an appetite for the actual performance data that this project will deliver.

However, we are by no means done. We are still looking for more volunteers that represent a wide swath of ISPs, access technologies, service plans, and regions of the country. We’ve had a number of questions about whether consumers that are on a certain provider’s network or have a particular service plan are eligible to volunteer. The answer to all of those questions is “yes”! The more the merrier! So for those that have not done so already, please go to www.testmyisp.com and sign-up to be a part of this important effort.

6 Responses to “The Appetite for Measuring Broadband Service”

  1. Doug Ellis says:

    Great!!! I hope you will include those of us in rural areas were we receive only intermitting broadband signals receiving .03 to 40 kbps with an occasional only 100 kbps using wireless while paying the same fee as those who are complaining that they are receiving only 2mb. It's really is really frustrating when you are trying to download a file or photo and being dropped a couple of times.

  2. Guest says:

    Dave, please make sure you evaluate ISP data caps in your metrics of usage. For the most part, anything over 3Mbps is only relevant when you are dealing with high bandwidth transfers. You don't need a 10Mbps+ connection to check email or for browsing most websites. There has been a continued push in recent years by residential ISP to place data caps on their users. It's much easier for an ISP not to invest money for regional infrastructure upgrades when they can pack customers on oversold nodes and then tell their abuse team to terminate service for a customer that uses their connection.

    Here's a perfect example. A connection possible of 10Mbps down is capable of transferring approximately 108GB of data in a single day. Yet there are many ISP in the United states that will terminate service for a residential subscriber if they transfer far less than 108GB in a whole month. Ultimately, what good is it to have a fast line if your ISP will terminate a subscriber's service if they have a utilization factor higher than 3% in a given month?

  3. Doug Ellis says:

    Doug Ellis says:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    June 07 2010 at 5:39 PM
    Great!!! I hope you will include those of us in rural areas were we receive only intermitting broadband signals receiving .03 to 40 kbps with an occasional only 100 kbps using wireless while paying the same fee as those who are complaining that they are receiving only 2mb. It's really is really frustrating when you are trying to download a file or photo and being dropped a couple of times.

  4. Guest says:

    There are providers out there that do not have caps. Please check your options to be sure you have purchased the right products for you.

    Thank you to those of you conducting the study. I would love to take part. Maybe this will spur on a rise in internet speeds to all!

  5. Guest says:

    In response to Guest says: June 08 2010 at 11:44 AM

    You are making an assumption. Your market may actually see some competition, but there are many regions that are under-served (0-1 ISP, no service or total monopoly) or that see little to no competition at all and are not likely to see competition any time soon.

    Compared to the rest of the industrialized world or even most of the US you can not call the example below even remotely competitive. In most of europe, caps are practically unheard of. The same goes for Korea and Japan, although NTT did recently reverse that trend, but their cap for residential internet is around 1TB, not some ridiculously low about like 5-40GB.



    A Practical Example of the Monopoly/Duopoloy effect in action
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    If you're looking for an example of how areas in the United States are absent of competition you have to look no further than Alaska. Cable company GCI in Alaska is a perfect example of an ISP that has charged their customers prices way above industry averages and capped usage on residential customers.

    GCI's unbundled internet offerings (notice the price and allocated usage)
    http://www.gci.com/forhome/internet/standalone_modems.htm

    GCI's bundled internet offerings (prior to 4/20/10 GCI advertised these services as "unlimited downloads" )
    http://www.gci.com/forhome/internet/bundles_high_speed_modems.htm

    GCI used an incentive of "unlimited downloads" on bundled internet service tiers to convince customers to buy their "ultimate package" bundle (cable tv, POTS, long distance).
    As of 4/20/10, GCI changed their ToS, and updated their website to remove almost all references to "unlimited downloads". GCI has now placed the same paltry limits on usage as their unbundled service tiers.
    http://portal.gci.net/usage/fair_use.html

    A normal counter argument, would suggest customers to vote with their wallet and seek out local competition. What if there is no competitor? What if the local competition offers services that were competitive in 2000, not 2010?

    ACS internet offerings (notice the forced bundling with POTS, and speed tiers)
    http://www.acsalaska.com/personal/internet/high-speed/bundles.asp

    ACS's lowest speed tier doesn't even meet the FCC's own qualification of broadband at 768Kbps downstream.
    http://www.engadget.com/2008/03/19/fcc-redefines-broadband-to-mean-768kbps-fast-to-mean-kinda/

    As a residential customer what options are we left with? Do we pay exorbitant rates from the local CLEC and face limited data caps on usage, or do we pay exorbitant rates from the ILEC for forced bundling and speed tiers that were competitive 10 years ago?

  6. Guest says:

    I have to agree with the other "Guests' comments. My in-laws live in a small development of only 50 homes, I can see the new CO that was built just down the block, yet, they can't get any service over 750kbs. They should be able to get 8mb on a DSL that within a couple hundred feet of their home, and the provider charges the same price for 3x the speed elsewhere in their footprint. It's a definite sign of a lack of investment in the infrastructure due to lack of competition.

    I can get faster service on my cell phone with only 3 bars (I can tether). Yet, they pay as much as I do for my home's 15/2mb service. They have no choice to speak of, since Verizon sold off the assets and other 'dsl' providers are more money for the same service.



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