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FCC survey: 80% of users don’t know broadband speeds

Tue, 06/01/2010 - 8:15am
Mike Robuck

Four out of five Americans in a Federal Communications Commission survey didn’t know their broadband speeds, but 91 percent of the respondents were largely satisfied with the speeds they received in their homes.

While most broadband users were “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with the speeds in their homes, mobile broadband users were 71 percent satisfied with the speeds of their services.

The FCC’s survey of consumers, conducted by Abt/SRBI and Princeton Survey Research Associates from April 19 to May 2, interviewed 3,005 American adults.

The survey was 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. Through the initiative, the agency will also measure the actual speeds that consumers receive and compare them to the speeds that broadband providers advertise.

With today’s survey results, the Consumer Task Force also announced two initiatives that will help the FCC determine the broadband speeds consumers are getting in their homes and on their mobile devices, which was one recommendation in the National Broadband Plan.

In the first initiative, the FCC is seeking 10,000 volunteers to participate in a scientific study to measure home broadband speed in the U.S. Specialized hardware will be installed in the homes of volunteers to measure the performance of all of the country’s major Internet service providers across geographic regions and service tiers.

This study will culminate in a “State of Broadband” report to be released later this year. The tests are also a key part of the Broadband Action Agenda, which details a number of initiatives designed to foster competition and maximize consumer benefits across the broadband marketplace.

The FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau issued a Public Notice today to look at ways to measure mobile broadband speeds as part of its second initiative. The Public Notice asked 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.

The end goal is that the FCC hopes to develop tests that help each individual consumer in the U.S. determine his or her own broadband speed. The agency took its first step in March by providing two speed tests that consumers can use at home or on their wireless phones.

“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. 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.”

More Broadband Direct 6/01/10:

•  Mediacom CEO attempts to take company private
•  Time Warner Cable is all Clear in KC
•  Bill DeMuth takes leave from SureWest
•  FourthWall taps former Nielsen exec to lead media measurement unit
•  Rumor mill: Apple TV heads for the clouds
•  FCC survey: 80% of users don't know broadband speeds
•  Tablet market heats up
•  4G wireless: It's fast, but outstripped by hype
•  Broadband Briefs for 06/01/10

 

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