WASHINGTON, March 11, 2010 – The FCC launched its consumer broadband test today, enabling consumers to test the speed and other performance measurements of their broadband connections.
Users will randomly be assigned to one of two speed and measurement test when they visit www.broadband.gov. One of the tests will utilize the open source Network Diagnostic Tool (NDT) developed by Internet2, a consortium of researchers. BroadbandCensus.com has been using the NDT speed test since February 2008.
“Transparency empowers consumers, promotes innovation and investment, and encourages competition,” said Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski.
“The FCC’s new digital tools will arm users with real-time information about their broadband connection and the agency with useful data about service across the country,” he said. “By informing consumers about their broadband service quality, these tools help eliminate confusion and make the market work more effectively.”
The FCC also said that it did not endorse any specific testing application.
In addition to the “Consumer Broadband Test,” the FCC on Thursday also launched a mobile application — a first for the agency — that is available through the Apple and Android app stores. Called the “Broadband Dead Zone Report,” the mobile tool enables Americans to submit the street address location of a broadband “Dead Zone” where broadband is unavailable for purchase.
On the Consumer Broadband Test, the FCC is asking users to submit their address for internal purposes. BroadbandCensus.com links NDT speed test data to self-reported data about consumers’ broadband carriers, their ZIP+4 code, and the consumers’ ratings of their provider’s perfomance.
The FCC said that it would utilize the NDT speed test as further developed by the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative. Open Technology Initiative, together with Google and Princeton University’s PlanetLab Consortium, launched Measurement Lab, or M-Lab, in January 2009. M-Lab uses an open, distributed server infrastructure.
As with BroadbandCensus.com and the FCC, among M-Lab’s core goals is to advance network research by actively promoting openness and transparency: research tools on M-Lab must publicly publish their source code. Further, the NDT data collected is being made publicly available on the Measurement Lab Data Repository under a Creative Commons license. More than 2.8 million NDT tests have already been run, and M-Lab publicly released the first 500 Gigabytes of data earlier this year.
BroadbandCensus.com also posts all the broadband data sets — the NDT results, as well as user-generated comments and ratings — under a Creative Commons license.
“The Network Diagnostic Tool released by the FCC will collect important information about the true state of broadband in the United States,” said Sascha Meinrath, Director of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative.
“Through using M-Lab’s NDT tool, not only is the Commission empowering consumers with vital information regarding actual performance of their broadband connections versus unrealistic ‘up to’ speeds currently utilized by providers, but also contributing to research that is essential to informing good public policy,” said Benjamin Lennett, Policy Analyst for the Open Technology Initiative.