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FCC Asks You To Test Your Broadband Speeds 454

Posted by kdawson
from the your-mileage-will-vary dept.
AnotherUsername writes "The Federal Communications Commission is asking the nation's broadband and smartphone users to use its broadband testing tools to help the feds and consumers know what speeds are actually available, not just promised by the nation's telecoms. At http://www.broadband.gov/, users enter their address and test their broadband download speed, upload speed, latency, and jitter using one of two tests (users can choose to test with the other after one test is complete). The FCC is requiring the street address, as it 'may use this data to analyze broadband quality and availability on a geographic basis' (they promise not to release location data except in the aggregate). The agency is also asking those who live in a broadband 'dead zone' to fill out a report online, call, fax, email, or even send a letter. The announcement comes just six days before the FCC presents the first ever national broadband plan to Congress. Java is necessary to run the test." Lauren Weinstein points out some of the limitations in the FCC's testing methodology.
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FCC Asks You To Test Your Broadband Speeds

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  • by ptbarnett (159784) on Friday March 12, 2010 @08:59AM (#31451002)
    I ran the test and the measurements were 10% of the speed of my FIOS connection.

    It offered me the opportunity to rerun the test using Ookla as the host. That returned 25 megabit/sec down and 15 megabit/sec up -- which is what my connection is supposed to do.

    They apparently need to implement some sort of queue, so that they don't saturate their own connection with too many simultaneous tests.

  • Classic failures (Score:2, Informative)

    by jgreco (1542031) on Friday March 12, 2010 @09:05AM (#31451068)

    An iPhone (yes there's an iPhone app) test and a laptop test on the same wifi reported wildly different numbers.

    Selecting a server 800 miles away rather than the one in the same city yielded much improved numbers (by whole number multiples).

    Speedtest.net already has an extensive database, and appears to be part of the backend of this. It's too bad the FCC couldn't have just handed them a small pile of cash to summarize the existing data, which would probably have been better at rapidly producing results.

  • by jgreco (1542031) on Friday March 12, 2010 @09:11AM (#31451136)

    They want to determine coverage. You cannot derive street-level coverage of broadband from IP addresses easily. As it stands, one of the problems with broadband is that you do not get universally consistent coverage, for example, at home, the 3/768 DSL offering of one of the CLEC's failed testing and they provisioned it for 1.5/512 instead. Had we been half a mile closer to the CO, 3/768 likely would have worked. There will be someone else a little further out who can only get it as 768/384.

    The real problem will be for the FCC to get enough people to run this to get a meaningful map. I doubt that they'll get enough for it to really matter.

  • by Idbar (1034346) on Friday March 12, 2010 @09:34AM (#31451354)
    And it's convenient that the test, which allegedly requires Java, also complains that I need to upgrade to the last version of flash. I'm guessing not many iPhone/AT&T results in this poll.
  • by trum4n (982031) on Friday March 12, 2010 @09:37AM (#31451388)
    Problem is, everybody has to grow up. You address is public already. CHILL. Run the damn test so the FCC can rape comcast and FIOS already so we get the speeds we are paying for!
  • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Informative)

    by mister_playboy (1474163) on Friday March 12, 2010 @09:38AM (#31451394)

    First, you'll need to stop all other network activity during the test to get an accurate result. Second, don't get kB and kb confused... 1kB=8kb.

    Happy testing.

  • Great job! (Score:3, Informative)

    by MaWeiTao (908546) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:32AM (#31452070)

    This site doesn't instill a whole lot of confidence in the government's plan for national broadband. First the site has difficulty loading, it took a few minutes before I got in. So I try the test and Firefox locks up. Eventually I get an unresponsive script warning.

  • Not over wifi? (Score:2, Informative)

    by smd75 (1551583) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:36AM (#31452100)

    Im seeing a problem with this. As most people aren't going to think to not test it over Wifi. Why would this be a problem? Wifi running at 54mbps is much slower than wired connections at 1gbps. Theyre not going to get accurate data unless people are taking advantage of all the fastest connections to the internet.

    I tested this, over wifi, im only getting about 10% of my connection speed, while over ethernet, Im getting what I am paying for if not a bit higher

  • Re:Not over wifi? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @11:08AM (#31452530)

    Both 54mbps and 1gbps are much faster than the 2-20mbps that most residential internet connections support. Sounds to me like your wireless router is braindead.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by IICV (652597) on Friday March 12, 2010 @11:22AM (#31452684)

    A witty saying proves nothing. - Voltaire

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Informative)

    by JWSmythe (446288) <.jwsmythe. .at. .jwsmythe.com.> on Friday March 12, 2010 @11:51AM (#31453026) Homepage Journal

        Check the fine print. It's written in 1px tall letters, but not necessarily every available to you.

        The advertised rate is the maximum data rate that would be possible with your account.

          They may have the pipe between your house and their first pop at the advertised speeds, but that won't necessarily be available through their network. They cannot assert the reliability of any 3rd part web sites, nor connectivity on any network beyond their own.

        Additionally, they probably don't (read: never) have enough capacity on their network to take 100% of advertised rate for all users simultaneously. Providers always oversell their bandwidth. They have since the dialup days. "Ok, we have 1,000 56k modems. Therefore we should have 56Mb/s available. Great, we'll run it over this T1, and blame line noise on their end for any slower speeds."

        Bandwidth calculations for sales are very dependent on the fact that some of the customers will never use their service. Some will only use it intermittently. Those who use too much capacity will be throttled or cancelled.

        When cable modems were first coming out, RoadRunner was using the same provider as my work. I could download stuff from work to home at 10Mb/s. That lasted for a few months, and then I suddenly found it capped at 3Mb/s. Ok, still, I'm happy, this was years ago and my other choice was a 56k modem. Then I found it capped at 1.5Mb/s. I was starting to get annoyed, so I called to complain. "My connection is getting slower and slower." They told me it couldn't have possibly been 10Mb/s, they never provisioned anything like that. Hmm. They also said the advertised rate of 3Mb/s is only a maximum. If other people in the area are using service at the same time as me, I should expect slower times. No one ever sees their maximum advertised throughput. If I'd like, I could upgrade to "Business" service for 10x as much, which has a higher advertised rate, but still does not have a guarantee for throughput. It's in the fine print, in the addendum that I wasn't provided a copy of. In the cellar. Behind the locked door marked "Beware the Leopard". In the disused lavatory. In the bottom drawer of a locked file cabinet. Clearly it was my fault for not understanding the terms of the contract, therefore I need to shut up and pay my bill like a happy little customer.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Informative)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday March 12, 2010 @12:38PM (#31453630) Journal

    >>> I'm all for letting the FCC enforce quoted speeds for ISPs.

    What do you need the FCC for? You can enforce the speeds yourself using existing mechanisms. Simply drag Comcast into court for "breach of contract". You might even be able to get a class-action suit for your local neighborhood where Cmcast was licensed.

    Unfortunately you'd probably lose. Why? The contract you signed, if it looks like my contract, says "upto" a certain speed. Not a guarantee. Which means Comcast has done nothing wrong. A little immoral perhaps, but no different than how Walmart, Microsoft, or other corporations act. And no illegal.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @01:57PM (#31454664)

    The census isn't a threat to your privacy.

    No, just to your freedom.

    "The U.S. Census Bureau Gave Up Names of Japanese-Americans in WW II" [scientificamerican.com]

"Out of register space (ugh)" -- vi

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