New Web Site Aims to Provide Data about Broadband to Public
BroadbandCensus.com, a new web site designed to help Internet users measure and gauge broadband availability, competition, speeds and prices, launched a beta version of an Internet speed test. Through the release of the beta version, BroadbandCensus.com encourages testing and feedback of the technology in preparation for a national release.
The speed test seeks to allow consumers all across America to test their high-speed Internet connections to determine whether broadband providers are delivering the promised services. At BroadbandCensus.com, users can learn about local broadband availability, competition, speeds and service. By participating in the speed test and an anonymous online census questionnaire, users can greatly contribute to the nation's knowledge and understanding about the state of the nation's broadband competition and services.
"We believe the Broadband Census will provide vital statistics to the public and to policy makers about the true state of broadband in our country today," said Drew Clark, Executive Director of BroadbandCensus.com. "By releasing a beta version of the speed test, we hope to encourage feedback from early adopters in the research and education community so that we can create an even more robust mechanism for collecting broadband data."
BroadbandCensus.com is deploying the NDT (Network Diagnostic Tool), an open-source network performance testing system designed to identify computer configuration and network infrastructure problems that can degrade broadband performance. The NDT is under active development by the Internet2 community, an advanced networking consortium led by the research and education community. The NDT has been used by other broadband mapping endeavors, including the eCorridors Program at Virginia Tech, which is working to collect data of residential and small business broadband trends throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.
"Internet2 supports its more than 300 member organizations in getting the best performance from their advanced network connections," said Gary Bachula, Internet2 vice president for external relations. "We are pleased that the Network Diagnostic Tool can play an important role in helping U.S. citizens and policy makers gain a better understanding of existing broadband services. This information will help consumers and policy makers make better decisions about future broadband services," said Bachula.
"The eCorridors Program endorses and supports the Broadband Census as a means of continuing the effort with the participation of key national players," said Brenda van Gelder, Program Director of eCorridors. Virginia Tech launched the first of its kind community broadband access map and speed test in July 2006. "We believe that mapping broadband along with these other factors can have significant political and economic impacts by providing the public a user-friendly, grassroots tool for maintaining oversight of available internet services, applications, bandwidth and pricing."
The NDT provides network performance information directly to a user by running a short diagnostic test between a Web browser on a desktop or laptop computer and one of several NDT servers around the country. The NDT software helps users get a reading on their network speed and also to understand what may be causing specific network performance issues.
Congress and state government officials have all recently focused on the need for better broadband data. And the Federal Communications Commission last week called for greater transparency about the speeds and prices of service offered by broadband carriers.
Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, has introduced legislation that would provide the public with better broadband information. Markey's "Broadband Census of America Act," H.R. 3919, has passed the House of Representatives and is now before the Senate.
By allowing users to participate in collecting Broadband Census data, BroadbandCensus.com aims to build on these initiatives, and to provide consumers and policy-makers with timely tools to understanding broadband availability, adoption and competition.
Additionally, Pew Internet & American Life Project has contracted with BroadbandCensus.com to gather anonymized information about users' broadband experiences on the web site, and to incorporate those findings into Pew's 2008 annual broadband report. "Connection speed matters greatly to people's online surfing patterns, but few home broadband users know how fast their on-ramp to cyberspace is," said John Horrigan, Associate Director for Research with the Pew Internet & American Life Project. "BroadbandCensus.com will help fill a gap in understanding how evolving broadband networks influence users' online behavior."
BroadbandCensus.com is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial License. That means that the content on BroadbandCensus.com is available for all to view, copy, redistribute and reuse for FREE, providing that attribution is provided to BroadbandCensus.com, and that such use is done for non-commercial purposes.
About Broadband Census.com:
Broadband Census LLC is organized as a Limited Liability Company in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Drew Clark is the principal member of Broadband Census LLC. To find out more about the organizations and individuals providing financial, technical, research or outreach support to the Broadband Census, please visit BroadbandCensus.com. For more information: http://www.broadbandcensus.com
About Pew Internet & American Life Project:
The Pew Internet & American Life Project produces reports that explore the impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life. The Project aims to be an authoritative source on the evolution of the internet through collection of data and analysis of real-world developments as they affect the virtual world. For more information: http://www.pewinternet.org
About Virginia Tech e-Corridors Project:
eCorridors is an outreach program of Virginia Tech that was established in 2000. Its activities include telecommunications policy, communications infrastructure, research and other computing applications as well as community networks and economic development in a networked world. eCorridors is a primary means through which government, private sector industry and community stakeholders participate and collaborate with Virginia Tech researchers and IT professionals. For more information: http://www.ecorridors.vt.edu