FCC: 80 Pct of Americans Don’t Know their Broadband Speed

A new survey conducted by the Federal Communications Commission‘s Consumer Task Force has found that, overall, 80 percent of Americans don’t know the speed of their broadband Internet connections (PDF)—but most respondents are satisfied with the speed their getting…whatever it is. The survey is part of a broader initiative at the FCC to measure the actual broadband speeds consumers receive from ISPs and compare them to the speeds that broadband providers advertise.

“Speed matters,” said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, in a statement. “The more broadband d what speeds they get, the more they can make the market work and push faster speeds over broadband networks.”

The FCC’s focus on the actual bandwidth being delivered to consumers comes as the agency is putting forward its National Broadband Plan, which seeks (in part) to reclassify broadband Internet service more like telephone service to preserve things like consumers’ ability to access any lawful application or service, but not requiring providers accede to rate regulations and facilities-sharing requirements. But the timing of the Consumers Task Force’s study only highlights the elephant in the room: neither the FCC nor anybody else really has much idea what broadband is available to consumers, and whether consumers get anything remotely akin to the services being advertised. If the results of the survey are any indicators, consumers don’t really seem to care…although the survey noted some variations, with women and respondents age 65 or older less likely to know the speed of their broadband connection.

In an effort to map out existing broadband access to U.S. homes, the FCC is looking for 10,000 volunteers to participate in a study (conducted by SamKnows) measuring home broadband speeds: participants would have specialized hardware installed in their home that would measure the performance of their broadband connection and report the results back to the FCC; participants will also be able to see the performance of their own broadband service. Interested consumers can register for the test at www.TestMyISP.com.

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