Put your broadband connection to the test

FCC tool lets you test your Internet speed

Want to know how fast your Internet connection really is?

If you're like most home users, your broadband provider tempted you with promises of blazing fast speeds -- but the fine print always warns you that those speeds aren't guaranteed. And if you're an agency network manager, you've seen the same kinds of advertisements and marketing materials, likely geared toward an enterprise setting.

But you're probably not getting the promised speed, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Now, as part of the FCC's roll-out of its broadband plan, you can test it.

To test your connection, go to www.broadband.gov and click on the "Consumer Broadband Test" link. You'll fill in some basic information and then can test your performance using two software tools. You'll get back measurements of your download speed, upload speed, latency and "jitter" -- that last is defined as "a measure of the variability in latency." According to the FCC's information page, latency and jitter are especially troublesome for real-time applications, such voice over IP and online virtual environments.

Do you connect to the Internet with an iPhone and want to test the speed? Thanks to the FCC, there's an app for that.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

Reader Comments

Fri, Mar 19, 2010

The address collection is so they can map what speeds are available in what neighborhoods. ISPs and telcos are blatantly redlining less-than-well-off neighborhoods as not worth their bother to roll out infrastructure in. We need non-profit or co-op ISPs modeled on the old REA, to cover the low-profit areas.

Thu, Mar 18, 2010 Dave Washington

This absolutely is a data collection process. Read the fine print of this broadband test too. The privacy statement reads: (http://www.broadband.gov/broadband-quality-test-privacy-statement.html) 1. 1.Where there is an indication of a violation or potential violation of a statute, regulation, rule, or order, records from this system may be referred to the appropriate Federal, state, or local agency responsible for investigating or prosecuting a violation or for implementing or enforcing the statute, rule, regulation, or order. What is an indication? Broadband data collection my donkey.

Thu, Mar 18, 2010

This is one step that is a positive one for the Federal Government. It most certainly will reach a lot of people and be used heavily. Your comment about the fine print and not always having this "lightning" speed is so true and many people do not realize that the high speed is not guaranteed.

Thu, Mar 18, 2010

This looks like a government data collection process. Why should I have to enter my address to test my connection? I don't have to do it when using any of the speedtest.net type connections.

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