In the United Kingdon, the Internet is not used as frequently as in America. As a result, broadband is still being actively improved. Initially, many regional companies offered their own broadband connections, but over time they have merged into six major companies. Having Internet in the home has become more popular as of the late 2000s, and according to Ofcom, United Kingdom users spend about 36 minutes of their day on the Internet as of 2007.
A relatively new resource, called SamKnows, focuses on measuring broadband connections. A software developer named Sam Crawford noticed that there was no efficient way to measure the speed of consumers Internet connection. With inconclusive results and contradictory information, he determined that the only way to truly measure Internet speed is directly from the router.
Consumers are able to purchase a SamKnows Whitebox and install it in the home. Plugged into the home network, the Whitebox monitors home network traffic without collecting any personal data, and it only runs tests when the network is not in use to eliminate disruptions and ensure accuracy. Critics of SamKnows are afraid that his program is just another way for the government to monitor Internet activity. They do not understand the measures that SamKnows employ in order to prevent disclosing any personal data. SamKnows takes strict measures to only collect network data and not invade the privacy of its consumers. Such measures are dictated in the code of conduct that all authorities are required to follow. The results of the ISPs performance are sent back to the SamKnows reporting servers and then transmitted to the consumer by his personalized reporting site, smartphone app, and monthly ISP report card.
One key principle of SamKnows is â€œopenness and transparencyâ€. Participants are encouraged to adhere to a code of conduct that supports the openness of the program. Furthermore, the source code is available for independent review. This means that the tests can be replicated, which SamKnows feels is important to regulate accuracy.
What started out as a simple idea, SamKnows has turned into an international company in just three years, servicing not only the UK but also partnering with the European Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, IDA, and Anatel. This means that after expanding outside of London, SamKnows has been accepted in the United States, other countries in Europe such as Belgium, Singapore, and Brazil. Having expanded now to four continents, SamKnows hopes to continue growing in popularity, in the hopes of creating a global broadband performance measurement.
Whiteboxes are not currently on sale. However, you can sign up to be a volunteer and receive a free Whitebox if you live in the US, Europe, Singapore, Brazil, or Canada. The information obtained from your Whtebox is not only used for personal knowledge of how fast your network is, but also for broadband companies to make note of successes and failures and work to make improvements in their systems in order to improve broadband connections for everyone.
SamKnows and other companies that test broadband connections are important for continued improvements to the systems. The Internet is popular in America because of the high-speed connections and various plans that can be purchased. The phenomenon is still growing in the UK due to limited opportunities. With a system like SamKnows, it is probable that UK broadband companies will continue to make improvements to their networks that will encourage its use by more consumers. From November 2008 to November 2012, broadband speed in the UK has increased by 234%. It is quite probable that tests like those run by SamKnows have contributed to this development.
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