EC To Study Europe-Wide Broadband Speeds

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The EC is to carry out EU-wide broadband tests following disappointing results from an Ofcom probe

The European Commission has put out a call for volunteers to take part in a Europe-wide study into the broadband performance of all EU member states.

The study, to be carried out by SamKnows, is intended to provide accurate data to ISPs, regulators and consumers that can be used in planning and improving Europe’s broadband network.

Volunteers test the speed

A similar study carried out by SamKnows in the UK for Ofcom found that actual broadband performance was about 50 percent of advertised speeds. SamKnows also carried out a similar project for the US’ Federal Communications Commission.

The EC is calling for 10,000 volunteers across all EU member states as well as Croatia, Iceland and Norway.

Volunteers will be given a device known as a ‘whitebox’ to plug into their home Internet connection. When the line is not in use the box runs a series of automated tests to measure speed and performance, simulating common Internet applications and protocols.

The box doesn’t record the volunteer’s Internet activity or record any personally identifiable information, according to SamKnows.

The data will create a pan-European broadband map for forward planning as well as giving users detailed real-time data about the performance of their own connection, including speed and reliability.

“We are working to provide ISPs, regulators and, most importantly, consumers with the information they need to push for improved broadband services,” said SamKnows chief executive Alex Salter in a statement. “The people who volunteer to take part will not only get access to our technology for free, but will be champions for better broadband across Europe as they help us to develop a picture of connectivity across Europe.”

Speed tests

Users can apply to participate in the programme via SamKnows’ website.

Ofcom’s 2009 study found that UK consumers got about half the speed their providers promise, but reported that speeds were gradually improving.

The average broadband speed users got at the time was 4Mbps, while most popular services promised speeds of “up to” 8Mbps, according to the report. Cable came out ahead and the report noted that speeds were increasing – the average was only 3.6Mbps in January.

‘Ofcom’s research should stop companies exaggerating their claims about broadband speeds,” said Audrey Gallacher, head of customer experience at statutory “consumer champion” Consumer Focus, at the time. “It is really welcome that consumers will, for the first time, have a way of comparing internet providers.”

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