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Moss: Broadband, What’s Your Speed?

FCC initiates something of a grassroots test of broadband speeds nationwide

Are broadband drag races in your future? Who has the fastest broadband connections in America?

Considering the FCC’s much ballyhooed national broadband plan, it could be considered mildly curious about broadband speeds. Recently it initiated a (very) nonscientific, semi-grassroots test of broadband speeds, nationwide.

Willing participants can download a pair of free software broadband measurement tools from Ookla and M-Lab.

Jordan Usdan, an attorney-advisor to the FCC’s Broadband Task Force, recently summarized the testing at the FCC’s Broadband Blog under the heading “Consumer Broadband Test Update.”

The FCC is collecting the data and drawing maps and graphs.

Admittedly the crude test has holes in it; the two apps measure broadband speeds with different methodologies, often revealing significant speed differences on the same line; results are measured and averaged on a state-by-state basis whereas broadband performance is more often dependent upon the local county or city carrier.

But participants, more than 150,000 to date, seem to enjoy it and it does provide a starting point.

Not surprisingly, early results favor tech-heavy East Coast areas such as government-heavy Virginia and financial firm-heavy New Jersey (and the New York City area). No doubt California’s mediocre performance on some tests has to do with undeveloped and underdeveloped parts of the state rather than whiz-bang Silicon Valley.

The study takes most all comers, with home users and mobile users being dominant.