FCC Releases Broadband Speed Survey Results as Pelosi Backs Oversight

The vast majority of Americans don't know the broadband speeds they pay for, a Federal Communications report finds, while Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said regulation of broadband communications is a priority.

The Federal Communications Commission released the results of a survey on the consumer broadband experience, which found 80 percent of broadband users in the United States do not know the speed of their broadband connection. The survey is part of the agency's overall broadband speed initiative, which involves several bureaus and offices and is being coordinated by the Commission's Consumer Task Force.
The Consumer Task Force also announced two initiatives to help the FCC determine the broadband speeds consumers are getting in their homes and on their mobile devices, a key recommendation in the National Broadband Plan. In the first of these initiatives, the FCC is asking for 10,000 volunteers to participate in a scientific study to measure home broadband speed in the United States. 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 survey found that no demographic group had good awareness of their home broadband speed (the survey asked specifically about download speed). However, the FCC noted there were some demographic differences. For example, 71 percent of men do not know what speed they're getting, while the figure is 90 percent for women. With respect to age, 73 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 29 do not know their home broadband speed, while the number goes up to 88 percent of people age 65 and over.
"Speed matters," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. "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."
The FCC's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau also issued a public notice to look at ways to measure mobile broadband speed. More and more consumers are using mobile wireless devices to access the Web, sometimes as a primary Internet connection. The Public Notice asks for input on the best ways to measure mobile broadband speeds, the ways that speed measurements can be used to help improve service, and the information consumers should have about the speed of mobile broadband coverage.
"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. "Today, most people just know that their home broadband speed is supposed to be -blazing fast.' 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.
In addition, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced her decision to back the FCC's attempt to regulate broadband communications through a redefinition of broadband services as telecommunications, according to the political blog Fire Dog Lake, The Seminal. "Part of the innovation agenda I advocated for when I became Leader was universal broadband," she said in a conference call with bloggers, the site reported. Reclassification, net neutrality, universal access for every American, these are priorities for us."