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One in Five Americans Know How Fast Their Broadband Is, With Women Most Clueless

most americans confused about broadband speedIn March, industry analysts from Forrester Research found that only 41-percent of all Web-surfing Americans know the exact speed of their broadband connection. While that figure may seem low to some, it wasn't that surprising, given the fact that determining connection speeds is an inexact science at best. But a new survey from the FCC shows confirms only about one in five American users know just how fast their Internet runs. And according to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, consumer knowledge is consumer power.

In a statement, the chairman argued for greater Web-surfer awareness, pointing out, "
The more broadband subscribers know about what speeds they need and what speeds they get, the more they can make the market work and push faster speeds over broadband networks." As The Hill points out, the FCC's survey also revealed interesting trends across male and female users, as 90-percent of women claimed ignorance about the strength of their connections, compared to just 71-percent of men. The study also shows that women are more likely to believe the promises of broadband providers, with 27-percent of female respondents saying they believe the speeds claimed by their provider; 22-percent of men had the same confidence.

As Reuters reports, the FCC is digging deeper into broadband speeds, as part of its expansive National Broadband Plan (PDF), which was unveiled in March. The commission is currently seeking 10,000 U.S. volunteers for a nationwide study of connection speeds, in the hopes of evaluating the performance of major providers across various geographic regions. For now, users can clock their own Internet connections by using the Internet speed test tool that the FCC installed a few months ago.

As Genachowski succinctly says, "Speed matters." Most of us probably don't care to know the precise speed of our Internet; we just want it to work, and to work well. But, as with any market, transparency is crucial, and only when consumers know exactly what they're getting can they evaluate the quality of what they have. The FCC is doing its best to enhance that transparency, but it will still take some action on our parts to inform ourselves, and to better ensure that we maintain influence over an otherwise murky economy. [From: Reuters and The Hill]

Tags: broadband, BroadbandAccess, BroadbandConnect, BroadbandProvider, connection, digital divide, DigitalDivide, FCC, gender, GenderDifferences, Internet, survey, top, Web