FCC plans to spread broadband broader

Thursday - 6/3/2010, 11:07am EDT

John Horrigan, consumer research director, National Broadband Task Force, FCC

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

You may have heard by now. Eighty percent of broadband users in the U.S. do not know the speed of their broadband connection. While that may sound like a Nearly Useless Factoid, it's important to the Federal Communications Commission.

John Horrigan, consumer research director of the National Broadband Task Force, explained to Federal News Radio an FCC survey was needed because "as broadband becomes a more and more critical utility in people's lives, we feel like it's important to understand how well people understand various attributes of the service."

It's all part of an effort to get everyone on board, said Horrigan.

The national broadband plan has an ambitious aspirational goal to have ninety percent of Americans connected by 100 megabits per second broadband by the year 2020. Today we have sixty-five percent of Americans with broadband at home, so there's a ways to go to get to that ninety percent level.

So the next step in the plan is to try to measure what the broadband speeds really are. To do that, the FCC is looking for 10,000 volunteers to help out.

"That's to improve our knowledge about how network speeds really play out across the country."

And once that step is completed, Horrigan explained all the data will be put to good use.

We will use that information, first, to really understand what's going on in the network in a way we couldn't do before. Secondly, it'll be input into a process by which we hope to better inform the public about the nature of broadband speeds and their service. It's all a part of the FCC trying to create conditions so that there's more transparency to consumers about their broadband service.

The FCC hopes to have the next report on the broadband speed issue, by "late summer" said Horrigan.