Federal Communications Commission

Strategic Planning And Policy Analysis Category

The Appetite for Measuring Broadband Service

June 7th, 2010 by Dave Vorhaus - Expert Advisor, Economic Opportunity

Last week, we announced that the FCC has begun recruiting volunteers for a landmark study of broadband performance in consumers’ homes. In conjunction with our partner, SamKnows, we launched the website to inform people of the project and solicit volunteers. Individuals that are selected for the panel will be provided with a free, state-of-the-art custom router for their home network, secure access to all of their personal broadband performance data, and the opportunity to shape the future of broadband in America.

I am pleased to announce that the support we have gotten for this initiative thus far has been overwhelming. In less than a week, nearly 20,000 people have already volunteered! Moreover, major media outlets have taken note of this effort and its importance in the broadband marketplace. This is a clear indication that consumers are clamoring for more transparency and disclosure of broadband services, and that there is an appetite for the actual performance data that this project will deliver.

However, we are by no means done. We are still looking for more volunteers that represent a wide swath of ISPs, access technologies, service plans, and regions of the country. We’ve had a number of questions about whether consumers that are on a certain provider’s network or have a particular service plan are eligible to volunteer. The answer to all of those questions is “yes”! The more the merrier! So for those that have not done so already, please go to and sign-up to be a part of this important effort.

Sign up to Shape the Future of Broadband

June 1st, 2010 by Dave Vorhaus - Expert Advisor, Economic Opportunity

Last month, we announced that the FCC had selected a third-party vendor to help conduct a scientific, hardware-based test of actual broadband speeds and performance delivered by ISPs to consumers’ homes. Along with our partner, SamKnows, we aim to provide greater transparency in the broadband market by gathering and publishing information on the service consumers get, rather than simply what is advertised. We’ll be measuring upload and download speeds, but also other important characteristics of broadband performance such as latency, jitter, availability, packet loss and more. This effort represents the first scientific, hardware-based, national test of broadband performance. 

Now that we’ve finished crossing the Ts and dotting the Is, we are ready to begin recruiting volunteers to help us with this critically important effort. The FCC and SamKnows will be constructing a panel of 10,000 volunteers that will form the Broadband Community that is the basis for this study. We’d like to encourage everyone that is interested to go to and sign up to participate. Don’t be fooled by the URL though; this is not your run-of-the-mill online speed test. After we have recruited a panel that runs the gamut of geographies, service providers and broadband packages, we will be shipping every selected participant a customized router that can be easily connected to your existing in-home network.

Once that hardware device is connected, you are off and running! This custom router will test your broadband performance at regular intervals, all day, every day, throughout the course of this study. Each participant will also be given access to a unique page with their individual broadband performance statistics, so you can see whether what you are getting matches what you are paying for. And in the aggregate, these data will be used to provide valuable information to the FCC, ISPs and the general public about how our broadband networks are performing across the country. Along with other items on the FCC’s Broadband Action Agenda that are improving data collection and transparency, this is a critical step in fostering competition and maximizing consumer benefits across the broadband ecosystem.

If this sounds like something you would like to be apart of, please sign-up as a volunteer for the panel.

Benefits of Broadband in a Digital Society

May 26th, 2010 by Elise Kohn

Why should people care about broadband? Quite simply, the world is undergoing a digital transformation—of the way we learn, get jobs, interact with our government, interact with each other, take care of our health and keep our communities safe.

There are benefits to broadband use and there are consequences for individuals that are left offline. Economists disagree about the size (in dollars) of potential benefits, but broadband access and use has some obvious advantages:

1.    Finding a job: In August of this year, there were 2.2 million job postings across top online job sites. According to a recent iLogos study, 94% of Fortune 500 companies—including Wal-Mart and McDonalds—hire employees online.
2.    Health care: By 2020, this country is expected to have a shortage of 49,000 to 185,000 physicians and vast swaths of this country already face a shortage of specialists. Broadband-enabled video medical consultation can provide critical care to people in need.
3.    Education: Salem-Keizer School District in Oregon re-enrolls more than 50% of dropouts and at-risk students through its online Bridge Program annually. Students who cannot be in school for health, child care, work or other reasons, can continue to learn online.

Further, as a society, we will all bear the costs of 100 million Americans left offline. Broadband adoption—and use—can remove barriers to equal opportunity. We all benefit from potential increases in productivity and fuller employment, more efficient government services enabled through online transactions, and a better-educated citizenry.

The National Broadband Plan sets forth recommendations to help this country achieve universal broadband access, adoption and use. The Plan suggests measures to improve the economics of deploying and upgrading broadband networks, considers specific programs to pull people online, and makes recommendations that will help transform sectors vital to our national purposes. We cannot precisely predict our digital future, but we know it leads to more.

Capture The Phone Numbers Using Your Camera Phone

If you have a camera and a 2D matrix code reader on your mobile phone, you can capture the FCC Phone numbers right to your phone by following these three easy steps:
Step 1: Take a photograph of one of the codes below using the camera on your mobile phone.
Step 2: Use your phone's Datamatrix or QR Code reader to decode the information on the photograph. Please note, these code readers are device specific and are available to download on the internet.
Step 3: Store the decoded address information to your phone's address book and use it with your Maps or GPS application.

Datamatrix and QR FCC Phones