Broadband map of Europe needs volunteers

The European Commission and SamKnows have launched a project to map out broadband performance across Europe and have issued a call for volunteers to measure their home connections

Broadband monitoring specialist SamKnows is calling for volunteers to take part in a European Commission study of broadband performance across the continent.

The project, announced on Tuesday, aims to map out levels of performance in the EU member states as well as in Croatia, Iceland and Norway. SamKnows now needs to recruit 10,000 volunteers to measure their broadband connections and provide data for the study.

"We are working to provide ISPs, regulators and, most importantly, consumers with the information they need to push for improved broadband services," SamKnows chief executive Alex Salter said in a statement explaining the project.

"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," he added.

Fast broadband is a key goal of the Digital Agenda adopted by the European Commission last year, in which it set a target of 30Mbps minimum speeds across the region by 2020.

The Commission appointed SamKnows to its broadband-mapping project in February. The London-based company has carried out similar volunteer-based broadband measurement for ISPs and bodies such as Ofcom.

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.

– Alex Salter, SamKnows

For example, Ofcom drew on SamKnows performance data for its July report on the average speed of broadband connections in the UK, in which it found that the average download speed had risen to 6.8Mbps.

Volunteers for the pan-European project, who can sign up via SamKnows's website, will be sent a small 'Whitebox' device for connection to their home network. The device, which runs automated tests when a user's connection is not in use, simulates "common internet applications and protocols", SamKnows said.

However, it does not monitor the volunteers' internet activity or record any personally identifiable information, the company added.

In addition to helping with the study, participants will benefit by receiving detailed real-time data about the speed and reliability of their own connection, according to SamKnows.

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