March 11th, 2010 | Published in Google Public Policy
Internet users deserve to be well-informed about the performance of their broadband connections, and good data is the foundation of sound policy. So I'm excited to see that the FCC has launched a "beta" consumer broadband test on broadband.gov today. The site provides access to two third-party measurement tools, and is "the FCC's first attempt at providing consumers real-time information about the quality of their broadband connection."
One of the tests is provided through Measurement Lab (M-Lab), the open server platform that a group of researchers and other organizations created with our help last year. The FCC allows users to run Network Diagnostic Tool (NDT) -- an open source tool developed by Internet2 -- and see their estimated download and upload speeds. They can also see the estimated latency and jitter of the connection test between the user's computer and an M-Lab server.
Since M-Lab launched, a number of partners have joined to add new tools, improve the platform, and make the data more accessible. One of M-Lab's core goals is to help advance network research, and we're thrilled to have the FCC contribute to this effort as well. All M-Lab test results are made open and publicly available so that researchers can build on and learn from the data without restriction. By pointing users to this tool, the FCC is contributing to this open pool of broadband data. (Note that as part of these tests, the FCC asks users to submit their addresses; to be clear, M-Lab is not collecting any of this information.)
The FCC has also said that the forthcoming National Broadband Plan will recommend different measures to improve broadband transparency. As we stated in previous comments, we think it's important to consider the complementary ways it can use multiple measurement and data collection methodologies, and we look forward to seeing what else the Plan recommends.
For now, you can head over to broadband.gov to try out this first step.