Measuring Broadband America (MBA) is a research initiative which gathers independent data about broadband performance in the United States of America. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched the project in 2010 with the intention to better understand how mobile and fixed Internet performs throughout the country.
The project's funding goals were to build a national measurement platform from which the Internet performance of every American home could be measured, and to carry out strategic reports to encourage improvement for American consumers.
The MBA measurement platform consists of many thousands of hardware test agents, called Whiteboxes, that run Internet performance tests from real homes across the country, as well as smartphone applications. MBA test results have informed a large number of academic studies, including studies undertaken by the FCC, such as the Measuring Broadband America report, now in its tenth year. The MBA platform is also used for other important work, such as the FCC's assessments of Internet Performance following natural disasters, including Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico (2018) and Hurricane Dorian in Florida (2019).
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) awarded grants from the FCC's Connect America Fund, which targets underserved areas of the country to ensure every American will have access to good-quality Internet, will also be able to use the MBA platform. This means that ISPs receiving funds can start testing immediately without the burdensome set-up costs and challenges of running a measurement platform.
Central to the MBA's success is an absolute focus on technical methodology and working in collaboration with academics, government, and, crucially, American consumers who have volunteered in their hundreds and thousands. By working together, the MBA program has been able to define a standard for Internet performance measurement. To ensure fair play, all consumer, academic, and industry participants of the project must sign a code of conduct, which can be found here.
Everyone is welcome to participate in Measuring Broadband America. If you are a consumer and would like to check your own Internet performance while contributing to a dataset that is used to advise policy, please Volunteer Now.
I signed up to keep my peace of mind. The Whitebox has in fact helped me solve my issues and the issues of hundreds of other homes on our node.
I definitely would recommend the study. Especially with a dynamic product such as Internet access speeds.
The Whitebox was able to show me that I have too much packet loss on my DSL circuits.
Additionally, I tried to switch to a 4G LTE ISP in the area, and the SamKnows statistics showed me that the service was dropping from 24Mbps to near 50Kbps during primetime hours (6 pm to midnight).
This proved to me that I wouldn't be able to use this service in my area. I think there is a lot of value in having real metrics to evaluate where our country is in regards to critical Internet infrastructure.