Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Government The Internet United States

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.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

FCC Asks You To Test Your Broadband Speeds

Comments Filter:
  • Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Friday March 12, 2010 @09:52AM (#31450940) Homepage

    ...I would like to help them out by providing the necessary data, but I'm not sure how comfortable I am with it...tinfoil hat and all that. Anyone planning on doing this? Why or why not?

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:00AM (#31451010)

    And making the feds think they already have high speed internet is supposed to help them... how?

  • if I were them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:02AM (#31451022)

    I would selectively throttle http://www.broadband.gov/ to 110% of the nominal bandwidth being paid for :)

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:03AM (#31451040)

    I did it from work, but said I was doing it from home. Further, I entered an address of a home (not mine) in a rural area in my state that is currently trying to get federal stimulus money because they have no broadband.

    So your goal to make sure they don't get any stimulus money for broadband by making it appear they do?

    Anyways, it's hard to imagine they won't be discarding outliers, and (regardless of intentions) your dishonest result will be an outlier.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:04AM (#31451064) Journal
    If you don't like the idea of a government-sponsored network testing application accessing the network why would you even bother to download and execute it?

    The activities of any network speed tester should attract the attention of a competent firewall, since they will necessarily involve doing some uploading and downloading. If this makes you nervous, just don't execute the code(or, if you have the java chops, examine it first and make sure that the filler data used for the upload portion of the test isn't actually an encrypted dump of interesting information from your computer).
  • by tpstigers (1075021) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:05AM (#31451066)
    They can trace the IP, but it will lead them to your provider, not your house. I think the idea here is to learn about speed according to geographic location (i.e., neighborhood) rather than by provider.
  • Re:Hmm... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:17AM (#31451196) Journal

    >>>So your goal to make sure they don't get any stimulus money for broadband by making it appear they do?

    Our national debt is nearly $130,000 per American home* and projected by Obama's budget to increase +$10,000 more each year. We. Need. To Stop. Spending. Otherwise we'll have ~$200,000/home by the end of this decade, and all go bankrupt. As Cosby might say, "C'mon people! This isn't hard to figure out."

    The solution to broadband is ridiculously easy -

    - Congress should mandate with a simple law that the telephone company must provide DSL to any customer requests it (within six months). The twisted-pair lines are already there, except for the need to add a neighborhood DSLAM. If Verizon/ATT/whoever balk about expense, simply point to the billions they received circa 1996 and say "use that". Actually the expense should be quite low to upgrade existing phone lines to DSL lines.

    *
    * Simple math. Current U.S. Government Debt /100 million households.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:26AM (#31451268)

    The solution to broadband is ridiculously easy -

    - Congress should mandate with a simple law that the telephone company must provide DSL to any customer requests it (within six months). The twisted-pair lines are already there, except for the need to add a neighborhood DSLAM. If Verizon/ATT/whoever balk about expense, simply point to the billions they received circa 1996 and say "use that". Actually the expense should be quite low to upgrade existing phone lines to DSL lines.

    So you're proposing that instead of the taxpayer paying for it via taxes, the customers will pay for it via price increases handed down by the providers to cover the extra costs?

    So it's OK for everyone to pay for it as long as it's not called taxes? Brilliant.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:28AM (#31451294) Journal
    Where would that money come from?

    Reaching into one's own pockets to assist his fellow man in need is praiseworthy and laudable. Reaching into someone else's pockets to do so is despicable and deserves condemnation. - Walter Williams
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples&gmail,com> on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:30AM (#31451320) Homepage Journal
    Given the reference to a "broadband dead zone" in the summary, I imagine that this, combined with the census, will be used as justification for a communications counterpart to the late 1930s rural electrification project that made up part of President FDR's New Deal.
  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:35AM (#31451368) Journal

    This "test" is typical of government programs. Expensive, doesn't work right, and ends-up not fulfilling its promises.

    Remember EZpass in 2000? When I signed-up the government told me it would save time and money. Instead of $1 for a toll, I paid 90 cents, which saved a lot of cash over a month's time. Then in 2005 they eliminated the savings, but I kept the EZpass for convenience. And now in 2010 they want me to PAY $20 more each year than the cash drivers. I'm getting rid of my EZpass. It's typical politician doubletalk where they promise "savings" and then eventually end-up costing you MORE not less, than the old cash-based system.

    This FCC test is likely costing a mint, and it clearly doesn't work, and will generate bad results to justify spending billions of dollars. Plus I suspect even if it did work properly and showed less than 5% of American don't have broadband via DSL, cable, satellite, cellular, or wifi..... the politicians will still claim it justifies spending billions of OUR dollars in order to buy votes.

    Yes I'm a cynic. I trust the government about as much as I trust Microsoft or Comcast. Actually - less. At least MS or CC can't force their way into my home.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by butchersong (1222796) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:38AM (#31451396)
    I believe his point was that the federal government is at the moment not capable of paying for ANYTHING. So yeah a consumer that wishes to have broadband paying for the service is preferable to the government borrowing more money to pay for something they wouldn't implement correctly anyway.
  • by moosesocks (264553) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:51AM (#31451562) Homepage

    Not sure I like unblocking an application that the government is sponsoring either.

    Run a packet sniffer, and if you find anything particularly damning, there will be plenty of media outlets that will want to buy the story from you.

    Honestly, between Comcast and the government, I know which of the two I'd trust.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ephemeriis (315124) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:56AM (#31451620)

    Why? Well I'd like to see telco's held to their promised speeds as much as possible. If you are going to advertise one speed but only deliver a lower one, that's false advertising (or something).

    This is why I ran their test and submitted the results.

    If you go by my ISP's advertising you'll see they're offering 10 Mbps in my area. What you won't see is that regardless of which plan you sign up for, you're lucky if you can actually get 3 Mbps.

    So, by running their test, they've got something more accurate than what the ISPs will tell them.

  • by weiserfireman (917228) on Friday March 12, 2010 @11:14AM (#31451838) Homepage

    Give this man a cookie. In 1994 the REA was abolished and replaced with the Rural Utilities Service. They are most definately trying to justify their existence by trying to be involved in Federal broadband initiatives.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday March 12, 2010 @11:22AM (#31451936) Journal

    No.

    It's a common misconception to say Bush was worse than Obama, but it simply isn't true. Under both Clinton and Bush the debt "only" increased ~5 trillion per year (from 1993 to 2000 and 2001 to 2008). Under Obama's existing and projected budget, the debt increased by about $25 trillion during 2009, $15 trillion in 2010, and $10 trillion for the years 2011, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16. Look up Obama's budget - it's there in plain balck and white.

    So you see, even after the economy's projected recovery, Obama still plans to increase our national debt about two times faster than either Clinton or Bush did. Bush added about 40 trillion while Obama's projecting 80-90 trillion by 2016.

    So yeah I agree Bush was an ass (I didn't vote for him), but Obama is doubly so (my humble opinion). If Obama's projection is correct, we'll have close about $200,000/home as the decade ends and that simply isn't sustainable.

    >>>under 10% unemployment, mkay?

    It already is.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @11:29AM (#31452026)

    Why should I work for 60 hours a week busting my rear so that you can go to the library and read books thanks to my taxes? I only buy books - I have no need for a library.

    Why should I work for 60 hours a week busting my rear so that you can drive on improved roads thanks to my taxes? I work from home and have a big car - I have no need for pothole-free roads.

    Why should I work for 60 hours a week busting my rear so that you can send your child to a school funded by my taxes? I have no children, and if I did they would go to a private school.

    Why should I work for 60 hours a week busting my rear so that you can be assured of eating safe food, thanks to the FDA's use of my taxes? I have my own farm - I have no need for food regulation.

    Why should I work for 60 hours a week busting my rear so that you can get medicare thanks to my taxes?
    Why should I work for 60 hours a week busting my rear so that you can be safe thanks to the military funded by my taxes?
    Why should I work for 60 hours a week busting my rear so that you can drink soda made from HFCS, subsidized by my taxes?
    Why should I work for 60 hours a week busting my rear so that you can have onion routing, thanks to DARPA funded by my taxes?

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by svtdragon (917476) on Friday March 12, 2010 @11:38AM (#31452126)

    Under Obama's existing and projected budget, the debt increased by about $25 trillion during 2009, $15 trillion in 2010, and $10 trillion for the years 2011, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16. Look up Obama's budget - it's there in plain balck and white.

    Yes--due largely to the unfunded liabilities that the Bush administration incurred before Obama even took office. See also: Medicare part D, estate tax repeal, Bush's tax cuts for the top 1%. Their full cost is playing out *now*.

    And you're assigning a numerical value per household, which is at best tangential to the issue of the debt/GDP ratio. See here [nytimes.com] and the plots here [nytimes.com].

  • by hanabal (717731) on Friday March 12, 2010 @11:38AM (#31452130)

    seeing as they don't ask for name or SSN or any other way of identifying you, it doesn't help whether they already have it or not. They need some way of tying results to location. If they asked for your name and phone number they could run it through the database they already have to determine your address as it is publicly known. but I think asking for that info would be worse. So they do the easiest thing and ask for address. Then they have a really easy job of tying results to location and the information you provided on its own is pretty harmless.

    Come on, this is a chance for you to help the Government slam the telco's. Which many slashdotters have been asking for for ages. Do it.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday March 12, 2010 @11:39AM (#31452148) Homepage Journal
    On the other hand, seems like a nice way to voluntarily pre-fill the fed's database with IP tied to user tied to address.

    I'm sure that would make for a nice little database addition to what they already have.

    Sorry, not interested. I'd rather them have to make at least 'some' effort in their dragnet searches....

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by D Ninja (825055) on Friday March 12, 2010 @12:11PM (#31452576)

    Why should I work for 60 hours a week busting my rear so that you can sit in your parents basement getting high scores on Call of Duty since you have virtually no lag time thanks to my taxes?

    Well, um...I'm still getting lag time, so apparently you're not working hard enough...

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by truetorment (919200) on Friday March 12, 2010 @12:21PM (#31452676)

    This legislation doesn't curb anyone's rights. Nothing in the bill restricts or infringes on any rights enumerated in the Constitution, so I don't see where you're getting your claim that it would "squash the minority underfoot".

    I'm not a particular fan of mandates, either, but I understand that in the end, it will be a boon for everyone in the country to have some sort of health insurance. And let's be honest here, 10K in catastrophic insurance is a drop in the bucket if you get cancer. I watched a close family member go through surgery, chemotherapy, etc., and it cost a helluva lot more than 10K.

    Anyway, good luck in not becoming a sad statistic if the bill doesn't pass.

  • Tail Wagging Dog (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bxwatso (1059160) on Friday March 12, 2010 @12:28PM (#31452764)
    I find it odd that, after the FCC has spent tens of billions of dollars promoting and installing broadband as a social service, they are now doing a study of who has broadband and where. It is almost as if they have been putting policy before the facts, a common Washington fault.
  • Re:Hmm... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Friday March 12, 2010 @01:56PM (#31453900) Journal

    >>>Why should I work for 60 hours a week busting my rear so that you can go to the library and read books thanks to my taxes?

    You shouldn't.

    >>>Why should I work for 60 hours a week busting my rear so that you can drive on improved roads thanks to my taxes?

    You don't. Everybody pays a fair share for roads, based upon how much gasoline they use. Although it's called a "road tax" or "gasoline tax", it's as close to a use tax as the U.S. has. Everybody who drives pays roughly an equal amount to keep that smooth road functional.

    >>>Why should I work for 60 hours a week busting my rear so that you can send your child to a school funded by my taxes?

    You shouldn't. Like college the money should be funded by the parents, except in hardship cases (like welfare) where the state can provide help so the child grows-up educated citizen rather than illiterate welfare bum.

    >>>Why should I work for 60 hours a week busting my rear so that you can get medicare thanks to my taxes

    You shouldn't.

    >>>Why should I work for 60 hours a week busting my rear so that you can be safe thanks to the military funded by my taxes?

    Because the military protects the GENERAL welfare of every single home. Hence you should pay for it since you benefit from its protection.

    You should not have to pay for a single tax, or program, unless it's authorized by the U.S. Constitution or your local State Constitution. And even then, only if YOU benefit from it (general welfare) not for the redistibution of wealth to sloths.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by svtdragon (917476) on Friday March 12, 2010 @02:20PM (#31454212)

    I agree that cutting taxes on the rich didn't help, but the only REAL solution is to raise taxes on the people who currently aren't paying any, cut spending (entitlements), and stop the pork barrel spending.

    Because the lowest 20% have *so* much leftover income to contribute to taxes. And "pork barrel spending" comprises less than 1% of the Federal budget. Most goes to entitlements and defense--and entitlement spending, namely Medicare, is growing because our health costs are twice as much per-capita as nations with universal healthcare.

    Of course Obama's Health Care reform isn't really about Health Care, it is about creating another bankrupt entitlement, and passing the debt off to our children.

    Except for the part where it reduces the deficit in the next decade per the CBO, and reduces the deficit still *more* for the decade after. And so on.

    PEOPLE do you not realize that you're selling your children into slavery? And it isn't just the USA that is facing this problem, it is happening all across the world.

    Think about this for a second: if everyone, across the world, was selling their children into slavery, then who, exactly, would be buying them? By its very nature, a debt must be owed to a person or collection of people (either directly or by proxy). The nature of a debt is such that it belongs to a debtor and is owed to a creditor. Who, exactly, in this world you've dreamed up, is left to lend?

    And yes, I was against the bailouts. GM should have failed, same with AIG and Goldman-Sachs. Nothing is "too big to fail", and failure is like a forest fire, it cleans out the dead underbrush.

    You left out the part where their failure takes down our entire banking system and leaves a liquidity vacuum even bigger than the one we currently have, thereby cutting off the supply of money to anyone who might need to borrow it and slowing our economy to a complete and utter halt. But that's okay, the market will correct itself, right?

    Oh, shit! I forgot. The market is what got us here in the first place. My bad.

  • by John Hasler (414242) on Friday March 12, 2010 @05:52PM (#31457242) Homepage

    In contrast to the government I have no personal reason to distrust Comcast, never having had any dealings with them (and not crediting Slashdot rants about how evil they are). However, trust is not necessary. Both are often quite predictable and in this case the chance that the FCC is hiding something nefarious in this test is so small as to provoke laughter at those who are worried about it.

    Besides, any trojan would be aimed at Windows anyway.

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Patch86 (1465427) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:12PM (#31458270)

    This whole "up to" thing seems like a barely legal joke to me.

    If I ran a dairy delivery, and I offered my customers "packages" of either "up to 2 pints of milk, up to 3 pints, or up to 4 pints", and then proceeded to deliver them 1 pint, 1 1/4 pints, or 1 1/2 pints, do you know what would happen? I'd be bitch slapped by the Trade Descriptions Act quicker than you can say "but did you read the fine print?". You're not allowed to offer something that you have no intention of delivering, and that's that.

    It seems like the ISPs are in one of those strange legal loop-holes that so regularly plague the technology industries. It seems that the second someone introduces something "on a computer", the regulators completely lose their minds...

  • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Friday March 12, 2010 @09:33PM (#31460054)
    "if it looks like my contract, says "upto" a certain speed. Not a guarantee"

    This is EXACTLY why the FCC is doing this in the first place. They're going to compare the advertised "up to" speed and see how often you can actually get that.

    The problem with this test is that it only measures the speed for about 20 seconds. I have comcast which means "power boost" kicks in for about the first 30 seconds of your download, then you get normal speed, and then my speed seems to fucking tank on torrents after about 5-10 minutes sometimes.

    Basically, everyone from comcast will score BETTER than advertised speeds because of the way the test is done despite the fact that comcast is complete shit.
  • Re:Hmm... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Mr. Freeman (933986) on Friday March 12, 2010 @09:36PM (#31460082)
    Yes, this COULD be a scheme to get your personal information. I consider this to be unlikely, however, because they're ALREADY WIRETAPPING THE ENTIRE FUCKING COUNTRY. Then don't even need a warrant, they just need "probably cause" and to fill out a 1 page form to get any and all of your data from any ISP in the USA.

    They don't need some new sneaky plan to get your data, they already have it.

Put no trust in cryptic comments.

Working...