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ComCom seeks 3000 volunteers for broadband performance testing

30 May 2018

The Commerce Commission wants to rally 3000 volunteers to help make New Zealand’s broadband better for everyone, as part of a nationwide programme to monitor and improve broadband performance.

The programme aims to provide consumers with independent information on broadband performance across different providers, plans, and technologies to help them choose the best broadband for their needs.

“Kiwis love being connected to the internet and together we spend more than $1.2 billion a year on home broadband bundles. Despite this, we know that many consumers find broadband baffling. Products and pricing can be complex and in-home performance can be hard for consumers to measure,” comments Telecommunications Commissioner, Dr Stephen Gale.

“To make sure we get an accurate picture of how New Zealand’s broadband is performing, we need volunteers from all parts of the country, of all ages, and on all types of broadband technologies, plans and providers to take part.”

The programme will also encourage broadband providers and telecommunications providers to compete on performance, not just price.

The programme is being run by London-based firm SamKnows after it successfully won an open tender process. The programme is expected to cost $2.8 million over three years.

SamKnows is described as a world leader in internet performance measurements, and its current testing programmes cover almost half of the world’s internet population.

“SamKnows was a standout applicant. It is considered to be a world leader in internet service performance, currently assessing broadband performance for about half of the world’s internet population,” Gale says.

Volunteers will be given a Whitebox to plug in at home. The Whitebox is similar to a modem, and it also performs automated tests on a home’s internet performance at different times of the day. Volunteers will not be paid to participate in the programme, and it will cost nothing to participate.

“It will not record any personal information or browsing history and does not interfere with your internet service,” the Commerce Commission states.

Volunteers will also have access to their own personal internet performance information, which may help diagnose problems and improve home broadband performance.”

While a small amount of broadband data will be used to conduct the tests, the Commerce Commission says this is expected to have ‘little to no impact’ on testing volunteers.

Volunteers can sign up at measuringbroadbandnewzealand.com. SamKnows will contact selected volunteers directly.

Monitoring results and reports will be available on a dedicated website from October 2018.

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