What you need to know
- The FCC has announced a new initiative to collect data on consumer experiences with ISPs.
- Americans are encouraged to fill out a form describing their experience with their internet provider.
- The information will be used to help the FCC improve broadband access.
Broadband internet access is still a mess in the United States, with many rural areas still struggling to access decent, affordable internet, even in 2021. There are a few ways to figure out how to fix slow Wi-Fi at home, especially if you're not getting your advertised speeds, but even these methods won't help everyone fix their bad internet. While this has gone largely unaddressed for many years, the FCC is finally cracking down on internet service providers (ISPs) by taking a more direct approach to the matter that involves getting information directly from consumers.
Today, the FCC announced a new initiative that allows your experiences with broadband internet to be heard and taken into account. The FCC wants to know about the availability and quality of your internet service and hopes to use the information to help improve map accuracy and eventually improve service for more Americans. Many ISPs, including some of the best 5G networks, tend to exaggerate their coverage maps and are often misleading, making it seem like they cover more places than they actually do or provide faster service than what's available.
Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC Acting Chair and a long-time supporter of net neutrality and open internet highlights the importance of bypassing ISPs for this very reason and instead going to the consumers to get to the bottom of the woeful state of U.S. broadband:
Far too many Americans are left behind in access to jobs, education, and healthcare if they do not have access to broadband. Collecting data from consumers who are directly affected by the lack of access to broadband will help inform the FCC's mapping efforts and future decisions about where service is needed.
To see what speeds your ISP is actually claiming, you can enter your address on the FCC broadband map. The consumer complaints form isn't very detailed and asks for fairly basic information. The space to write out a complaint only allows up to five sentences, so complaints have to be fairly terse. According to The Verge, something a bit more detailed should be on the way, but until then, the FCC wants to begin collecting data as soon as possible. With any luck, this is just the first step to better internet access in the not-to-distant future.