Volunteers are needed for another study of in-home broadband Internet speeds.
The FCC has announced plans for yet another effort to determine people’s broadband speeds.
The FCC’s interest in the topic began back in June 2010, when it recovered from the shock of finding out that most people in fact do not know the speed of their own broadband connections.
The FCC followed up in April 2011 with a public notice asking for comment on which broadband properties it should investigate. Then a report last August summarized the broadband speeds delivered to the homes of 6,581 volunteers. These people were chosen from a larger pool who consented to the installation on their premises of “Whiteboxes,” provided by the company SamKnows, which measured broadband speeds reaching the customer’s computer. Other equipment measured speeds at nine Internet service provider locations.
The FCC is now seeking volunteers for a further study. Those chosen will receive a free wireless router from SamKnows, which will also measure the household’s broadband speeds and report back to the FCC. The lucky selectees will also receive free, detailed reports on the performance of their own broadband service.
We took a look at the fine print. It turns out the “free wireless router,” while free, does not provide a wireless network. Oh, and it does not function as a router, either. People who think they may be “heavy downloaders” are asked not to volunteer, because the tests will not function properly if the line is in constant use. People with low data caps are likewise discouraged from participating, because the wireless router (or whatever it really is) uses the customer’s Internet connection to transfer a fair amount of its own data.
Who is left? We suspect that the most tech-savvy users, the people most likely to pay extra for higher Internet speeds, are least likely to want extraneous equipment in their broadband loop. The least tech-savvy users will not want the challenge of hooking up an extra piece of gear, despite an FCC-provided video on how to do it. Those who mistrust the Government on general principles no doubt will suspect the free wireless router of spying on their Internet use, if not eavesdropping on their conversations, and possibly emitting harmful radiation as well.
Still interested? Sign up here.