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Chriss Scherer Scherer has been the editor of Radio magazine since 1997. His experience in radio includes work as chief engineer at stations in Cleveland (WMMS-FM, WHK-AM, WZJM-FM, WJMO-AM...more

Archive for June 2nd, 2010

Americans Are Oblivious to Broadband Speeds

The headline from a June 1, 2010 FCC press release:
“FCC Survey Finds 4 out of 5 Americans Don’t Know Their Broadband Speeds”

Whoa! Really? And you know what else? 4 out of 5 Americans probably don’t care either.

More from the FCC press release:

“The Federal Communications Commission released the results of a survey on the consumer broadband experience. The survey found that 80 percent of broadband users in the United States do not know the speed of their broadband connection.”

Well, that’s good to know, right?

“FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said, ‘Speed matters. The more broadband subscribers know about what speeds they need and what speeds they get, the more they can make the market work and push faster speeds over broadband networks.’”

I agree that speed matters, but is it really that critical for Mabel and Homer to know they have 720kb/s or 1.4Mb/s download capability? There are lots of technical details consumers don’t know or really need to know. They just want it to work.

And no matter how well something is explained, it often makes no sense in the end. The short answer is to simply say, “You need to pay a little more each month and step up to the next level of speed.

There is one benefit to the study. The FCC wants to verify that advertised connection speeds are actually being delivered. I typically lean towards buyer beware, but this is a case where Mabel and Homer will likely never verify their Internet connection speeds.

Still, are Mabel and Homer depending on a lightning-fast connection in the first place?

This is all part of the FCC’s efforts to push broadband improvements. Sure, let’s improve the broadband infrastructure for everyone. It’s the opening headline that made me laugh.

But on the serious side, the FCC looking for 10,000 volunteers to participate in a study to measure home broadband speed in the U.S. Specialized hardware will be installed in the homes of volunteers to measure the performance of all the country’s major Internet service providers across geographic regions and service tiers. The FCC is partnering with SamKnows Limited in this effort, the same firm that successfully conducted a similar test in the United Kingdom. A Public Notice asking for comment on the test plan was released in April 2010 and can be found at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-10-670A1.pdf.

Anyone can register as a volunteer for this national test at www.TestMyISP.com. Volunteers will be able to track the performance of their own broadband service, as well as providing valuable data for the FCC, Internet service providers, and the public at large.

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