Three-year EU broadband mapping project needs up to 10,000 volunteers
The European Commission is asking for 10,000 volunteers to take part in a pan-European project to monitor and map broadband performance.
In collaboration with broadband performance-testing specialist, Samknows, the research will give an overall picture of broadband provision across Europe.
This will allow internet service providers (ISPs) and regulators to plan future broadband projects more effectively. In addition consumers will get a clearer picture of what they are actually paying for.
Alex Salter, Samknows' chief executive says: "We are working to provide ISPs, regulators and, most importantly, consumers, with the information they need to push for improved broadband services.
"The people who volunteer to take part will not only get free access to our technology, but will be champions for better broadband across Europe as they help us to develop a picture of connectivity across Europe."
Sam Knows has already run a similar successful broadband monitoring trial with UK communications regulator, Ofcom, which started in February last year. The purpose of this research was to establish a picture of the true speeds people in this country get.
The EU project is looking for 600 volunteers in the UK who are prepared to sign up for the three-year trial, which will begin as soon as volunteers are recruited. People who want to participate receive an email with initial questions and those selected contacted with a follow-up email.
As with the Ofcom trial, volunteers will be sent what the study is calling a ‘whitebox' – for this Commission trial, the device will be a TP-Link TL-WR741ND Wireless N Router but it has been tweaked by Samknows.
"In the EC project, the device is not being used as a router; instead we flash it with our own software. It is not a router, but a performance-measurement device," says Salter.
"We've built it in this way so that it's as easy to use as possible for the volunteers. We don't want them having to reconfigure their home network; this is plug and play."
When the broadband line is not in use, the device will run a series of automated tests to measure the speed and performance of the connection. Samknows said that there are no privacy issues to concern people.
"SamKnows measures the performance of internet connections, not what people are doing over those connections, so we don't collect any personal usage data. We make sure that people opt in themselves to every project, as we want to create a community around this measurement, and transparency and trust are vital if that is going to work," added Salter.
The Commission is expected to make its first report during the first half of 2012.
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