As part of the Measuring Broadband America (MBA) program, the Measuring Fixed Broadband studies began in 2011 with the release of annual reports based on data collected from fixed consumer broadband Internet service during a single month with few large-scale traffic events, such as major holidays, sports events or other elections. The data analyzed in the reports thus reflect stable network conditions that provide the most accurate view of a provider’s performance under controlled conditions. With the cooperation of 13 fixed broadband service providers and diverse industry, academic and public interest 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 consumer market. The FCC works in collaboration with SamKnows, an international statistics and analytics firm supporting similar projects in other countries around the world. The Measuring Broadband America program incorporates the latest engineering best practices from these diverse stakeholders to collect and report the most accurate data for consumer broadband performance in the Unites States.
How It Works
Volunteer participants are sent “whitesboxes” that run pre-installed software on off-the-shelf routers that measure thirteen broadband performance metrics including download speed, upload speed, and latency. The FCC partners with SamKnows to develop the software for MBA testing. Without interfering with the consumer's regular Internet activity, the Measuring Broadband America software runs these performance tests on randomized schedules that are centrally managed and provided to each whitebox. The test results are then collected and analyzed to produce the annual Measuring Fixed Broadband report. Each of the volunteer participants provide information about their Internet service, which is verified by their ISP. Utilizing this data, the MBA program is able to measure actual performance speeds against what the ISPs advertise to the customer.
In its commitment to openness and transparency, MBA software is open source and can be found at http://www.samknows.com/opensource.
Data, Reports & Code
For more detailed technical information regarding the Measuring Fixed Broadband tests, go to the open methodology page
Data Collection Policy
The MBA Program collects broadband performance data on a continual basis, making such data available to the public as part of the Program’s open data policy. However, due to the effort involved in validating data for use in its annual report, data used for the Measuring Fixed Broadband Report is limited to a single one-month period, which is typically the month of September. As the Measuring Broadband America program has evolved, the FCC has developed policies to deal with impairments in the data collection process with potential impact for 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):
The policy establishes that for data to be included in the report, the collection process must be unimpaired during the specific interval of the collection across all ISPs for which data is to be collected for the report. Data collected from measurement servers subject to short interruptions or impairments of less than five days will be excluded from analysis for the Report, and report analysis will use remaining data for reporting as a 25-day “short collection” month. Where impairments persist and prevent a “short collection”, data collection for reporting will be carried over to a succeeding month until sufficient data is collected to complete testing, and the extended reporting period will be used for reporting purposes.
Thus data used for reporting may be derived from an actual data collection period shorter than 30 days (“a short collection”) or from a succeeding month, for example October.