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FCC test for broadband speeds draws skeptics

The reviews so far of the Federal Communication Commission’s tools to test broadband speed and quality have been mixed.

Readers have e-mailed and commented on the blog that they’ve used both tests offered by the FCC at its broadband.gov site and have come up with vastly different results.

Lauren Weinstein, a popular blogger and privacy advocate, noted that the tests don’t account for the wild variations in speed during the day. And they don’t factor in whether multiple users are on a network connection in one home or business. In those circumstances, speeds can be much slower.

“After inspecting the associated site and testing tools, I'm must admit that I am extremely skeptical about the overall value of the data being collected by their project, except in the sense of the most gross of statistics,” he wrote.

Critics also pointed to privacy concerns, saying there aren’t assurances that the information that is gathered (home addresses) won’t be used for purposes aside from the broadband data collection.

The FCC will use the data to better inform policy decisions their national broadband plan to be presented next week. With data on what kinds of speeds are offered in targeted geographies, they will have a better view of where broadband is lacking.

An FCC spokesperson said the agency will be posting a blog later today to address some of the feedback they’ve received so far on the testing tools.

We’ll come back then.

By Cecilia Kang  |  March 12, 2010; 10:41 AM ET
Categories:  Broadband , FCC  
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