10,000 volunteers needed to assess Europe's broadband

The Commission plans to check real ISP speeds and performance

The European Commission will put monitoring devices into 10,000 volunteers' homes to find out if ISPs are living up to their promises.

The project, being run for the Commission by SamKnows will take place simultaneously in 30 European countries. The aim is to map the broadband performance in all European Union (EU) member states as well as Croatia, Iceland and Norway.

Volunteers will have to plug a small device into their home Internet connections. When the broadband line is not in use, the device will run a series of automated tests over the volunteer's broadband connection, simulating common Internet applications and protocols. This will measure the speed and performance of the connection, improving transparency for consumers paying for broadband connectivity. It could also help ISPs and regulators plan for the future.

State aid for broadband networks reached a record high in the EU in 2010. The European Commission approved the use of more than €1.8 billion ($US2.4 billion) of public funds for broadband development in 2010 - four times that allowed in 2009. The aid was allowed in an effort to achieve ambitious digital agenda goals to ensure that all E.U. citizens have access to high-speed Internet access by 2020.

It is estimated that currently only around 30 percent of EU broadband lines have speeds of at least 10M bps (bits per second) and only 5 per cent of lines have average speeds at or above 30Mbps.

To volunteer, go to http://www.samknows.eu to register for the testing equipment. The device does not monitor the volunteer's activity on the Internet or record any personally identifiable information.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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Jennifer Baker

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