The Federal Communications Commission said June 1 80 percent of 3,005 broadband users surveyed in the United States do not know how fast their broadband connection is. The survey is geared to help fulfill a goal of the National Broadband Plan to gauge the Internet speeds users are getting in their homes and mobile devices. The idea is to ensure broadband providers such as Verizon, Comcast and AT&T continue to provide high levels of broadband service for unsuspecting users who may not know how to gauge what their provider promises.
The Federal Communications Commission said June 1 the
four out of five broadband users in the United States do not know how fast their
broadband connection is, a sign of how little Internet users know about the
rate at which data is transmitted to their computers.
On behalf of the FCC's Consumer Task Force, Abt/SRBI and
Princeton Survey Research Associates International surveyed 3,005 American
adults from April 19 to May 2, 2010 and found that 80 percent of broadband
users in the U.S. do not know the speed of their broadband connection.
No demographic group had good awareness of their home
broadband speed, though the data indicated there were some differences among
the demographics. The FCC said some 71 percent of men do not know what speed
they're getting, while the figure is 90 percent for women.
The older users tend to be, the less they know about
their broadband connections, the survey found. While 73 percent of consumers
surveyed between the ages of 18 and 29 do not know their home broadband speed,
the number shot up to 88 percent for people 65 years old and up.
The survey is geared to help fulfill a goal of the National Broadband Plan
gauge the Internet speeds users are getting in their homes and mobile devices, such as
smartphones and tablet computers.
The idea is to ensure broadband providers such Verizon, Comcast and
AT&T continue to provide high levels of broadband service for
unsuspecting users who may not know how to gauge what their provider
"Better information can help all consumers choose
the broadband services that best meet their needs," said Joel Gurin, chief
of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the FCC.
"They need more meaningful information to know
exactly what speed they need for the applications they want to run, and what
provider and plan is their best choice. The difference between an inexpensive
low-speed plan and an expensive, high-speed plan can be hundreds of dollars a
year. Consumers need to be able to choose wisely."
To that end, the FCC said today it will measure the
actual speeds that consumers receive and compare them to the speeds that
broadband providers advertise.
To help with these goals, the agency asked today for
10,000 volunteers to participate in a study to measure home broadband speed in
The FCC is contracting with SamKnows Limited to install a
special set-top box in the homes of volunteers to measure the performance of
all the country's major Internet service providers.
The agency invited anyone
to register as a volunteer here
. This device will measure the constant
end-user throughput from the Internet service provider.
It should be noted that the survey found that 91 percent
of broadband users say they are "very" or "somewhat"
satisfied with the speed they get at home.
This contrasts sharply with a comScore study that found the actual speeds
experienced by consumers are as low
as half of what providers advertised.
The FCC is trying to be proactive as it seeks to curtail the
impingement of network traffic from providers after a court said
the FCC could not dictate how providers manage Web traffic on their
The FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau is also
mulling how to measure mobile broadband speed at a time when more consumers are
using smartphones, laptops, netbooks and tablet PCs such as Apple's iPad to
surf the Web. Some 71 percent of mobile broadband users said they were
satisfied with their speeds.
Over time, the FCC aims to fashion tests that consumers
may use to track their own broadband speed for home and mobile devices.