Uncle Sam Wants You — to Test Your Broadband

March 11, 2010

Wired has a short article about a new project that the FCC is undertaking as part of its development of a National Broadband Plan — and you can be a part of it.

The FCC is asking the nation’s broadband and smartphone users to use their broadband testing tools to help the feds and consumers know what speeds are actually available, not just promised by the nations’ telecoms.

If you’re interested in taking part, or just curious about your connection, you can go to the FCC’s National Broadband Plan site, and click on the link “I Want to Test My Connection Quality”.  (You will need the Java run-time environment to run the test.  The site provides a download link.)   Even if you don’t have broadband, the FCC would like to hear from you and find out why.  You can click on the “I Do Not Have Broadband at Home” link on the Web site, or you can call the FCC at 1-888-CALL-FCC.

The FCC is scheduled to present the National Broadband Plan to Congress in six days.  The Wired article suggests, and I agree, that “crowdsourcing” broadband availability and performance data is a really good idea.  The existing carriers routinely over-promise and under-deliver on broadband performance, and in general are, to use the lovely British expression, “economical with the truth”.  The FCC is also asking for street addresses, so  that it can get some hard data on what is actually available in which locations.

Imagine: collecting real, honest data for use in setting public policy.  What a concept.

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