The Measuring Broadband America fixed studies began in 2011 and continue to the present, with the release of annual reports based on data collected during the month of September. With the cooperation of 11 broadband service providers and diverse industry stakeholders, the FCC has been able to assess national broadband performance using actual performance tests for thousands of subscribers of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) serving more than 80 percent of the residential market. The FCC has worked on Measuring Broadband America in collaboration with SamKnows, a well-known international statistics and analytics firm currently working on similar projects in several other countries.
How It Works
Volunteer participants are sent off-the-shelf routers with pre-installed software that measure broadband performance in thirteen categories such as download and upload speeds and latency. The FCC partners with SamKnows to develop the software for Measuring Broadband America testing. Without interfering with the consumer's regular Internet activity, the Measuring Broadband America software runs scheduled, randomized performance tests. The test results are then collected and aggregated to produce the annual broadband report. Each of the volunteer participants provided information about their Internet service, which was later verified by their ISP. Utilizing this data, the MBA program is able to measure actual performance speeds against what the ISPs advertised to the customer.
In its commitment to openness and transparency, the Measuring Broadband America software is open source and can be found at http://www.samknows.com/opensource.
Data, Reports & Code
For more detailed technical information regarding the fixed broadband tests, go to the open methodology page
Data Collection Policy
The FCC collects broadband performance data on a continual basis, making such data available to the public as part of its open data policy. However, due to the effort involved in validating data for use in its annual report, data to be used for purposes of the Measuring Broadband America Report is limited to an approximate one month period which is nominally the month of September. As the Measuring Broadband America program has evolved, the FCC has developed policies to deal with impairments in its data collection process with the potential to impact the validity of the data collected. These policies were formalized in a meeting with program participants in an open meeting on August 7th, 2013 as described in the ex parte report of that meeting (filed in Docket 12-264 http://apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7520939594):
“It had been agreed for data to be included in the report, the collection process had to be unimpaired during the specific interval of the collection across all ISPs for which data was to be collected for the report. Data collected from measurement servers subject to short interruptions or impairments of less than five days could still be used for reporting as a “short collection” month, with impaired data not included in reporting. Where impairments persist and prevent a “short collection”, data collection for reporting would be carried over to a succeeding month until sufficient data could be collected to complete testing, and this extended reporting period would be used for reporting purposes.”Thus the actual data collection period can be shorter than 30 days (“a short collection”) or may be comprised of data collected from the succeeding month of October so as to collect sufficient data for the report. Updated: March 17, 2015