A Site to Visit

Whatever else he is (secret Muslim, socialist, hater of America and Real Americans), Obama is arguably the first, and certainly the second (after Carter) technocrat President. Technocrats tend to appoint other technocrats to technology positions, instead of making those spots political rewards for clueless insiders. Nowhere is that more obvious than the FCC, which is now run by an asskicker named Julius Genachowski. He replaced a Clinton-appointed and Bush-promoted mediocrity, Michael Powell (son of Colin).

It’s too early to tell whether Genachowski’s efforts will turn into real change, but he’s making a lot of the right noises. Here’s a love letter from a normally skeptical tech site, written a few months back:

The Genachowski-led FCC has been relentless in its effort to disrupt the status quo. In office for six months, Genachowski and team are drafting a national broadband plan; working on net neutrality rules; fingering companies like Google, Apple, and Verizon; dealing with spectrum reallocation; handling the nuts-and-bolts of white space device deployment; threatening to extend neutrality rules to wireless networks; and considering the transition from traditional circuit-switched phone networks to a full-IP communications network. Now, we can add “shaking up the cable industry” to the list.
So Genachowski doesn’t seem to be a radical, but he does appear to be both relentless and ambitious in his quest to see these ideas carried through to their maximum potential for disruptive innovation. And he’s not above irritating just about every major incumbent with a network to do it.

This is a long-winded way of saying that everyone ought to visit the latest FCC effort, broadband.gov, and test your broadband connection. The FCC is collecting data about Internet speed across the country to find out where broadband stimulus money can best be spent. If that site gets a ton of hits, not only will it collect good data, but the FCC will have more proof that the public is watching and gives a shit.

81 replies
  1. 1
    bago says:

    At long last sir, have you no competence?

  2. 2
    demkat620 says:

    Now that’s what I want to see the FCC doing instead of worrying whether I saw 2 seconds of a nipple or if Howard Stern said something dirty.
    Priorities people!

  3. 3
    Linkmeister says:

    Test result: 2000kbps download, 646kbps upload. That’s in line with what the provider claims.

  4. 4
    Yutsano says:

    16054 download, 1978 upload. Vista yelling at me through the entire test. I may need to upgrade to 7 soon.

  5. 5
    JenJen says:

    Pretty cool! 15829 download. My upload is awful, isn’t it, at 486?

  6. 6
    MikeJ says:

    Wonder if this FCC guy will go to Jenny Toomey’s conference like Adelstein did. Played harmonica too.

  7. 7
    Linkmeister says:

    @Yutsano: Now that’s interesting. I’m using Vista, have been for 18 months or so, and I’ve yet to have any of the difficulties I’ve heard so many people grumble about. It didn’t give me any trouble with this test.

    I’m knocking on wood as I type.

  8. 8
    mcc says:

    What I would like to see is whether the FCC (or FTC?) is going to do something about cell phones getting exclusive contracts with single network providers and this just being the normal thing now.

    (This is on my mind because I finally got an iPhone last night, after delaying as long as possible to see if there was any way to avoid becoming an AT&T customer…)

  9. 9
    cleek says:

    6000 down, 300 up

    what do i win ?

  10. 10
    mistermix says:

    @JenJen: That’s a bit slow for 15829 down.

    Mine is 5829 down and 386 up, which is what my provider guarantees. I have had problems with the supposedly “faster” provider here, so I chose the slower but more reliable one.

  11. 11
    demkat620 says:

    18148kps download and 846 upload. What does that mean?

  12. 12
    Yutsano says:

    @Linkmeister: Nah, it was just the security passes Vista wanted me to approve to move on in the test is all. My computer might not be able to handle 7 anyway. Every time one of those pops up though having to drop whatever I’m doing just to hit continue, well, it gets old.

  13. 13
    Cat Lady says:

    Obama same as Bush!

    My home wireless kicks ass (13,100 download, 8300 upload), but Comcast still sucks.

  14. 14
    Violet says:

    Thanks for letting us know. I just tested. My connection is far too slow, but I think it could be affected by others in the house downloading large files at the moment.

    I’m thrilled that Obama is a technocrat. And glad the FCC is doing real stuff instead of focusing on half-second views of nips on TV.

  15. 15
    demkat620 says:

    Just did it again and got 18018 down and 4351 up.

    I guess that is good.

  16. 16
    cleek says:

    My computer might not be able to handle 7 anyway.

    i’ve got 7 running on an old Pentium M 1.2GHz laptop with just 1G of mem. added a 2G thumbdrive for “ReadyBoost”, and it works fine.

    if your PC can run Vista, it should be fine with 7.

  17. 17
    KRK says:

    Um, yeah. I guess that’s what they mean about the rural digital divide. I got 747 kbps download and 134 kbps upload, and I have a fast connection for my area. So sad.

  18. 18
    JGabriel says:

    … threatening to extend neutrality rules to wireless networks …

    From a consumer perspective, that should be “promising to extend”, not “threatening”.

    Perhaps the wording is just another sign of how thoroughly we’ve all internalized the “po’ corporate victims” meme — so defenseless against the big mean government, i.e., the people.


  19. 19
    MikeJ says:

    @Violet: Remember Pearl Harbor!

    Oh, you weren’t talking about WWII documentaries on History.

    26k ↓, 6K ↑

  20. 20
    Ming says:

    thanks for posting this, mistermix —
    (15K up, 3K down)

  21. 21
    Ming says:

    thanks for posting this, mistermix —
    (15K up, 3K down)

  22. 22

    […] in Daily life, Government, Obama administration at 3:39 pm by LeisureGuy Very interesting post at Balloon Juice by mistermix: Whatever else he is (secret Muslim, socialist, hater of America and […]

  23. 23
    General Egali Tarian Stuck says:

    Just wait for the Palin Administration when we return to smoke signals and The Pony Express.

  24. 24
    Tim P. says:

    18000~ DL 5000~ UL.. that’s a lot better than I would have expected.

    As for technocrats, how about Eisenhower? I always hear him being lauded as a relatively sane and reasonable leader.

  25. 25
    Yutsano says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck: Ugh. Bad Kevin Costner movie stuck in my head now. I should hate you with the passion of the fire of a thousand suns for that. You have a cute dog though, it tends to mitigate the pain.

  26. 26
    jeffreyw says:

    Bah, fuckin hughes.net 383 down, 254 up, 822ms latency. Fuckin satellite “broadband”.

  27. 27
    jeffreyw says:

    @Yutsano: You can turn that stuff off, I remember it being pretty easy but it’s been too long ago to remember how I did it now.
    Edit: here it is– http://lifehacker.com/230866/w.....e+-prompts

  28. 28
    Zach says:

    I’d have to go with Wilson or FDR as the first technocrat, I think. Obama would obviously like to be one, but it’s proving impossible. The structure of the Making Work Pay cut definitely put technocracy ahead of political expedience.

    Also, it seems sort of odd for the FCC to spend money gathering data that they could just pay Speakeasy, Google, Speedtest.net, or DSLreports for. Apparently this speedtest is made by the folks behind speedtest.net anyway.

    14mb/s down, 13 up over WiFi at school.

  29. 29
    Yutsano says:

    @jeffreyw: WOOT! I learned stuff today! Grazie mille!

  30. 30
    mistermix says:

    As for “what this means”, good question.

    I just checked B-J’s front page, and if you were visiting it for the first time ever, you’d download 7028 kb (kilobits). If you had visited it before, you’d download 1552 kb (because your browser keeps some of the page data cached.)

    On my connection (~5000 kb down), it takes a bit more than a second, best case,to get the data in the front page the first time ever.

    It’s never really that fast, for a number of technical reasons, but some people’s “broadband” will take 3-4 seconds to download just the page content in a best-case scenario. That’s pretty slow.

    B-J’s pages are relatively heavy, but there are certainly sites that have more stuff on the front page.

  31. 31
    Phyllis says:

    Improving rural broadband here would have such an impact on things we’re working on at the high school in my district. Our plans are to put a netbook in the hands of every high school student, but many are hindered by limited Internet access once they leave school for the day. And with wireless cards running at $35 bucks per card per month, that’s an almost insurmountable barrier once grant funding ends. And even those don’t work in the more remote areas of the district.

  32. 32
    ruemara says:

    Doing this right now. My community is filled with rural, minority and native american peeps. We need all the upgrades we can get.

  33. 33
    NobodySpecial says:

    25k down, 2k up, 15ms latency. Yay.

  34. 34
    peachy says:

    Did anyone else try the alternative engine (ookla)? I got results nearly three times, both up and down, as fast as with the first one. So what does that tell me?

  35. 35
    JenJen says:

    @mistermix: I’ve repeated the test three times now, and each time end up with upload at 486 Kbps. I’m guessing my broadband provider is capping my upload?

  36. 36
    gnomedad says:

    Appointing people on the basis of competence and expecting them to actually do their jobs? More proof he hates America!

  37. 37
    cleek says:


    I’m guessing my broadband provider is capping my upload?

    they almost always do. makes sense, since most people aren’t doing a ton of uploading. i do, though, and CrimeWarner’s 300k upload speed cap sucks.

  38. 38
    Jay C says:

    OK: I guess I gotta be the one to piss on the parade, here: I went to broadband.gov, and not only did I not get any up/download figures, but it froze my browser (FFox on home router w/ VZN DSL) necessitating a restart.

    Ami doin it rong?

  39. 39
    mistermix says:

    @JenJen: It’s normal for residential broadband to be “asymmetric”–faster down than up. The underlying technology works that way, it’s not a cap. That’s because most of what you do on a residential connection is download, not upload.

  40. 40
    MikeJ says:

    @Jay C: Update your java vm.

  41. 41

    6900 down 700 up, over wireless modem Qwest
    Not too bad from East of Bumf**k Egypt…

  42. 42
    dmsilev says:

    @peachy: Mine defaulted to ookla (apparently the other one doesn’t work with Safari), and the results (2700 down, 500 up) are pretty close to what AT&T claims to be selling me.


  43. 43
    patroclus says:

    By the standards of his day, I would certainly describe Thomas Jefferson as a technocrat. Monticello itself was a constantly changing experiment in the latest technologies and TJ was always striving to stay at the cutting edge of technological inventions.

  44. 44
    JD Rhoades says:

    Wait, that test demands…DEMANDS…that you provide your real name and address.

    Clearly this is another Obambislamocommifascist plot to catalog all Interwebs users so that they can find us and round us up when the FEMA trucks arrive to take us all to them re-eddication camps I heard about.

  45. 45
    blondie3 says:

    You guys are the technocrats, everyone running off to try the test. I don’t care what my speed is – it is what it is for where I live and what I have available.

    I’m more interested in Genachowski’s performance. Do you think after he gets done shaking up the FCC, we could try him at the Department of Energy, actually make some headway on a rational and systemic approach to policy, practices, sources, and technologies?

  46. 46
    JD Rhoades says:


    Our plans are to put a netbook in the hands of every high school student, but many are hindered by limited Internet access once they leave school for the day.

    At least that can be dealt with on a tech basis. A similar proposal here’s being hindered by assholes who oppose it because (a) it costs tax money, and (b) those idiot students will just lose or steal the computers.

  47. 47
    dmsilev says:

    Tried one of the computers at work. 88 megabits/sec down, 2.2 Mbps up. No wonder random surfing seems faster at work than from DSL at home…

    Granted, one lab’s share of the bandwidth of a large university is probably not the sort of thing that the FCC is trying to test, but still.


  48. 48
    sukabi says:

    @Jay C: It did that to me as well…. you just have to WAIT… it will eventually load the test screen again (a 3+ minute wait), then reclick the test button and it should bring up the actual test screen…

    I thought it was an issue with the mac I’m using, but did the same thing on my PC… you just have to wait for it… :-(

  49. 49
    drillfork says:

    Don’t go to Broadband.gov — it’s just a front for Obama to monitor you!


  50. 50
    Jay C says:


    Thanks, that seemed to do the trick: however – I got odd results from the two tests for DL/UP/lat/jit : bb.gov gave me figures of 298/729/264/367, while Ookla came back at 2670/724/26/1

    Can anyone explain the disparity?

  51. 51
  52. 52
    Yutsano says:

    @sukabi: It did lock up on me for a second too. I just got past it and then it all worked fine.

  53. 53
    Martin says:

    7.3Mb down, 2.6Mb up. No complaints other than it was a Flash app.

    I should try it at work on my 10GE switch. Then I’d be testing the FCCs bandwidth, since I’m almost certain my work has more. :)

  54. 54
    jeffreyw says:

    Mrs J showed me this pic she took at the shelter the other day. She took pains to mention that the woman holding the puppies was Mrs So and So, the wife of a high muckety muck at the local university. Question: Was it a trap to see if I recognized her?

  55. 55
    Barry says:

    Suburban broadband (SE MI), 12mb download, 4mb upload.

  56. 56
    Yutsano says:

    @jeffreyw: It’s always a trap. Has Admiral Ackbar taught you nothing good sir?

  57. 57
    RSR says:

    I just emailed this whole post to someone (linked and credited of course) with the following subject:

    socialist leader urges you to verify broadband speeds provided by capitalist overlord

  58. 58
    jeffreyw says:

    @Yutsano: Yes, he taught me to say “I’ve never seen her, maybe. Let me see those tits again”.

  59. 59
    WereBear says:

    I love technocrats. Look at the age we live in. Are we really going to be well served by the spit ‘n’ scratch good ol’ boy plan?

    I doubt it.

  60. 60
    Martin says:

    And his going after AT&T/Apple/Google is interesting. The issue was that Google Voice works as a VOIP client allowing a phone with either a 3G data plan or a WiFi connection to make calls of any type bypassing AT&Ts plan rates. Apple had blocked the app for sale at the behest of AT&T until the FCC jumped in.

    If there are more moves along these lines, it could be a short time before Google (or Apple or anyone else) sell phones that have nothing but a data plan (like the $29.99 unlimited data plan Apple got for the iPad) and just use a free VOIP client like Google Voice on top of it, and nuke the whole cell minutes/calling plan bullshit.

    Rather than working on nationwide broadband, I’d rather see the FCC jump in and say that LTE (or WiMax, whatever) will be the national wireless standard and anyone that doesn’t jump on won’t get a spectrum license.

  61. 61
    Gravenstone says:

    @KRK: Welcome to my world. of course, it’s been worse…@jeffreyw: Like that level of bad. Although I was on WildBlue rather then Hughes. They’re both just baldfaced liars regarding their system capabilities.

  62. 62
    jeffreyw says:

    @Gravenstone: Yeah, the best I ever got was 1.7mb down, and that was 3am. Painfully slow afternoons when the kids get out of school.

  63. 63
    Kristine says:

    21006 kbps DL
    3544 kbps UL

    IIRC, Comcast in northern IL bumped us up to 15000 kbps, so they’re providing what I pay for.

  64. 64

    Thanks for the link, John Cole. I live in such a backwoods town, so it’s always to my glee when I test out the connection and it comes out faster every year. This time I have crossed the 30-megabit threshhold……it is perhaps the only thing that I will miss when we finally find a house to buy and have to leave town.

  65. 65
    Nellcote says:

    It would be thrilling if Prez Obama could get the rest of his appointments/nominees through the damn senate! I think a lot of the complaints about things not moving swiftly enough is caused by many departments being without leadership and dangerously understaffed.

  66. 66
    Phyllis says:

    @JD Rhoades:

    and (b) those idiot students will just lose or steal the computers.

    Probably one or the other*. There’s no way to completely eliminate that from happening.

    I just despair at the attitudes much of the public have about public schools and the kids who attend them have these days. I mentioned our referendum in an earlier thread and during a public meeting to explain it, someone actually said to my superintendent, “Why should we fund the schools, considering what’s coming out of them.” Like that statement isn’t, you know, code.

    My boss very gently said that parents in the community were sending us the best they have.

    *I hasten to add that I’m more worried about other people in the homes, like relatives or ‘family friends’ making off with them than I am the kids themselves.

  67. 67
    Yutsano says:


    My boss very gently said that parents in the community were sending us the best they have.

    Oh SNAP! I bet that comment went over well with the parents.

  68. 68
    Citizen_X says:

    OT–but on-topic regarding a failed technocrat–the Demon Sheep ad guy has a new ad for Fiona, where he protrays Boxer’s head as a giant menacing blimp. It’s really bizarre (and long), and might have been effective if it didn’t end up hyping Carly freaking I-eliminated-28,000-Cali-jobs-trashed-HP’s-stock-price-and-got-shitcanned Fiona.

    Oh: 12Mbps down, 1.7Mbps up. OK, as compared to others’ results, but Comcast still sucks.

  69. 69
    Phyllis says:

    @Yutsano: The person who made the nasty comment at least had the grace to get all red-faced and kept their mouth shut through the rest of the meeting.

  70. 70
    Nylund says:

    I ran the test a few times (well, both versions of the tests). Quite a variation!

    I got (approx):

    2900 / 465

    7600 / 1000

    10900 / 1300

  71. 71
    kid bitzer says:

    goddamn it, mistermix–

    i ran your damned obamabot test, and it turned my computer into a mooslim.

    not only that, now my wifi has turned all soc!al!stical on me, and firefox keeps giving me pop-ups full of karl marx quotes.

    i shoulda *knew* i couldn’t trust anything this new administration does!

    and the worst of it is: after i run this sneaky, no good democrat test, the fcc crept in through my internets and confiscated all my guns!

  72. 72

    […] Balloon Juice.   « Robin Hooding in the UK | […]

  73. 73
    South of I-10 says:

    Cool! I got 19535 up and 9666 down.

  74. 74
    Mister Colorful Analogy says:

    Comcast Business Internet:

    21524 down, 5632 up, 23 ms latency, 3 ms jitter

    I usually hates me some Comcast (enough that I don’t have any level of TV service), but their business class cable modem service has been one of the best experiences I’ve had with a telecom. Credit where credit is due.

  75. 75
    henqiguai says:

    @Yutsano (#67):
    So late and probably never to be read, but –

    My boss very gently said that parents in the community were sending us the best they have.

    Funny, my immediate thought upon reading that was Kipling’s “Send forth the best ye breed…” Still, I would also expect *that* to go right over most peoples’ heads as well (and I don’t do poetry, but some stuff is just out there).

  76. 76
    YellowJournalism says:

    now run by an asskicker named Julius Genachowski.

    I read that as “asslicker“.

    Too many political sex scandals. Not enough coffee.

  77. 77
    Amanda says:

    Cool! Thanks for the tip — I tested my internet connection from the craptastic Comcast :-)

    Also — 2 chicks on the FCC! Woohoo! (I know, I’m shallow, but it’s so nice to see that change and diminishing tokenism). Baby steps…

  78. 78
    Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist says:

    Cool to see the FCC is actually behaving like a government agency instead of a corporation-fluffing outfit.

    But speaking of that, are they doing anything about media consolidation? IMO that’s one of the biggest problems we have in the U.S.

  79. 79
    vheidi says:

    @KRK: My results were about the same for Verizon dsl in Brooklyn- more of a non-profit salary gap, here.

  80. 80
    Todd Dugdale says:

    It isn’t so much that the current FCC is radical, as that it is simply very competent. They are actually doing things instead of kicking the can down the road, which is what we have become accustomed to.

    We should have had a National Broadband Plan in place five years ago. Instead, we left it to the private sector to cherry-pick the most lucrative areas and freeze out others.

    Let’s not forget that Google and the current FCC arranged to have significant wireless spectrum auctioned off with the provision that the data network be open to all devices. I think it might have been better if that space were reserved for a public wireless data infrastructure for the future, but the mere fact that the spectrum was left so open is a victory in itself.

    The private sector really hasn’t stepped up to the plate; that can’t be denied.

    As far as municipal wi-fi networks, which should be a no-brainer, the private sector has almost completely bowed out. Google set up a network somewhere in CA (SF?). Here in my home city of Minneapolis, the city laid out (and owns) a fibre network that serves as the backbone for a privately-owned wireless provider. This wi-fi service is a cheaper home broadband alternative than cable or phone company options, which proves that competition works in this industry to lower prices.

    It is not unreasonable that a city should bear the costs of a backbone infrastructure, much like sewer and water, and create a fibre network. But the real issue is whether or not the private sector would even try to capitalise on that, given their history.

    As an aside, I would add that our current urban utility infrastructure was laid out above-ground nearly a century ago to avoid contentious right-of way-issues. Those issues are now resolved, with municipalities being granted easements from the street. Much of the electrical and phone infrastructure could be placed below-ground along with the fibre network.

  81. 81
    Brent says:

    @Gravenstone: In what ways are WildBlue and Hughesnet misleading? I am just curious becuase I am currently researching satellite internet.

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