FCC expands broadband speed testing

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced plans to continue its evaluation of broadband Internet service in 2012 through testing programs involving consumer volunteers.

Part of the Commission’s ongoing efforts to increase transparency regarding broadband services and enhance competition in the marketplace, the 2012 studies will expand on previous research by including more broadband technologies and extending the study into new regions of the country. 2012 testing is expected to begin in March, and the FCC says that it will release two separate reports during the year on the data collected.

Consumer participation will be an essential element in the studies, and the FCC is encouraging volunteer participation by providing a free wireless modem that will measure broadband speeds delivered to the home. Consumers who wish to participate in the FCC’s 2012 broadband service testing can obtain more information at http://fcc.us/testisp.

The studies planned for 2012 follow the FCC’s first broadband services study conducted in March 2011. In that study, the FCC examined service offerings from 13 of the largest broadband providers, which then accounted for about 86% of all wireline broadband connections in the United States. The study was based on direct measurements of broadband performance as delivered to the residences of several thousand volunteer broadband subscribers.

Key among the findings of the FCC’s 2011 study was that actual broadband service achieves speeds of 80-90% of those advertised by broadband service providers, significantly better than a 2009 study which estimated that actual broadband speeds were only about 50% of those advertised.