Now I have to admit that this is an interesting project. The CRTC yesterday put this press release out asking for Canadians to help it measure how their Internet service at home performs:
The CRTC is recruiting up to 6,200 Canadians to help measure the Internet services provided by the participating ISPs. Volunteers will receive a device, called a “Whitebox”, that they will connect to their modem or router. The Whitebox will periodically measure broadband performance, testing a number of parameters associated with the broadband Internet connection, including download and upload speeds. The measurement tests will run when users are not actively using their Internet connection. The privacy of Canadians will also be assured. No information concerning online activities will be collected.
The results of this project will enable Canadians to gain additional insight into network performance, including actual connection speeds, and provide them with a better undestanding of whether certain Internet services from participating ISPs are delivering speeds as advertised. These results will also provide data that will enable the CRTC to improve its broadband policy-making.
Using these results as a baseline, the CRTC intends to publish a comprehensive report highlighting the findings of this project. While the initial project is set to last for one year, the CRTC intends to continue gathering data beyond the initial year. The data will ultimately form part of the CRTC’s data collection and monitoring activities.
If you want to participate, you should sign up here. But I suggest that you hurry as I suspect that this will be popular.
One thing that I did find interesting is that Rogers put out a press release of its own very quickly. It had a very interesting stance:
Rogers Communications announced today it is pleased the CRTC is launching Measuring Broadband Canada, a new independent testing program that gives Canadians real information on the performance of their Internet provider. The announcement follows the move by Rogers in 2012 to begin independent testing using global expert SamKnows, the same broadband testing firm announced by the CRTC today.
“This is great news for consumers,” said Robert Goodman, Senior Director of Internet, Rogers Communications. “We urged our competitors to join us when we began independent testing three years ago so we’re thrilled the CRTC is taking this step forward today. Canadians deserve the Internet speeds they pay for and more transparency means they can make more informed choices.”
For the record, I checked the press releases archives for Bell, Teksavvy and Telus for anything similar and I could not find anything.
I find it interesting because I will admit that Rogers has put a lot of time, money and effort into making sure that customers get the speeds that they pay for. And they’re not only not shy about telling the world about it, but they use third parties like SamKnows (Warning: PDF) to back up their claims. Thus they likely see something like this as an opportunity to get another third party to validate how good their Internet service is compared to their competitors. But since it would come from the CRTC, a body that Rogers hasn’t exactly had the best relationship with, it would add extra weight to Rogers claims. And for bonus points, by calling out their competitors for not doing the same, they look like the good guy. This is smart marketing, assuming of course everything goes to plan.
So, will you be participating? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts.