The FCC is actually doing some testing to find out if the service capabilities of the average user’s broadband account is as bad as the consumer magazines would have us believe, and toward that end, is enlisting the aid of certain citizens to help out.

The agency wants to measure the performance of certain people’s connections, provided they are on a list of those ISPs they wish to gather results for. In exchange for the use of your line, which will have a certain number of tests run periodically, and your time, you will be given a zippy new Netgear Wireless-N router [ Netgear WNR3500L ]!

The recruitment explains that the router will become yours after the successful completion of the tests, which is nice compensation, as the unit is no doubt chosen for its performance and reliability (The FCC would need a reliable and repeatable experience, so that the only variances being measured would be due to the performance of the connection.)

As the notice coming from blogtechnical details, the FCC will be giving away 10,000 of these routers, and that is going to be spread over the entire nation. (This means that if you and five of your buddies living in a clustered area all sign up, at best, one will receive the new router, after their ISP is known.)

They are striving to work on improving a number of issues including latency, packet loss, connection speeds and much more. Obviously the Internet is not all about just how fast you can download at. As mentioned on the site, many factors along the whole routing process can make a fast connection feel very slow. The main areas of focus include:

  • Multi-threaded HTTP download speed test
  • Multi-threaded HTTP based upload speed test
  • Availability of the connection
  • Jitter
  • Latency (both ICMP and UDP)
  • Packet loss (both ICMP and UDP)
  • DNS query resolution time
  • DNS query failure rate
  • Web page loading time
  • Web page loading failure rate
  • Video streaming performance

The choices will be made according to geography, ISP, and items of interest to the FCC. The absolute speed of your connection is not given as a make-or-break conditional, and as a matter of fact, the FCC no doubt wishes to see if the lower rated connections are really up to their advertised specifications.

Should you wish to become one of those who will be helping others as you help yourself, move with all due diligence to the site Test My ISP, to sign up. As mentioned, 10K is not many when spread over a nation of 300 million.