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Fixed Broadband FAQs
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How secure is the device? Does it allow you access to my network?

By default the device does not allow any remote access to it. For troubleshooting we may ask you for permission to access the device via a secure SSH tunnel. This will not give us access to your home computers.

How does this project affect my security and privacy?

We do not collect any personal browsing data that passes through the device. The Whitebox checks your bandwidth usage to decide whether to postpone the tests – for example, if you’re downloading a large file – in order to prevent any skewed test results. The Whitebox simulates the act of browsing to common websites in order to produce a metric for browsing speed rather than use your own browsing.

Testing information uploaded from the unit to our servers contains no information about you whatsoever. Furthermore, all such communications are encrypted, ensuring that results cannot be tampered with en-route.

Your individual unit’s test results will be available to you alone. Your unit’s results will also be aggregated with others from the same ISP to form a larger average set of results that can be viewed publicly.

We have absolutely no intention of doing anything that may adversely affect your privacy or security. If you have any concerns please feel free to contact us to discuss them.

SamKnows, on behalf of the FCC, is collecting and storing broadband performance information, including various personally identifiable information (PII) such as the street addresses, email addresses, online usage patterns, and broadband performance information from those individuals who are participating voluntarily in this test. PII not necessary to conduct this program will not be collected. Certain information provided by or collected from you will be confirmed with a third party to ensure a representative study and otherwise shared with third parties as necessary to conduct the program. SamKnows will not release, disclose to the public, or share any PII with any outside entities, including the FCC, except as is consistent with this policy statement, the SamKnows privacy policy, any agreement you have with SamKnows, and the Privacy Act of 1974, Public Law 93579 (5 U.S.C. 552a(b)(5)). For more information, see the SamKnows privacy policy. The broadband performance information that is made available to the public, including the FCC, will be in an aggregated form and with all PII removed, in compliance with subsection (b)(5) of the Privacy Act of 1974, as amended (5 U.S.C. 552a), and thSamKnows privacy policy. The FCC is soliciting and collecting this information authorized by OMB Control No. 3060-1139 in accordance with the requirements and authority of the Paperwork Reduction Act Pub. L. No. 96-511, 94 Stat. 2812 (Dec. 11, 1980); the Broadband Data Improvement Act of 2008, Pub. L. No. 110-385, Stat 4096 § 103(c)(1); American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 (ARRA), Pub. L. No. 111-5, 123 Stat 115 (2009); and Section 154(i) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended.

Does the SamKnows Whitebox make use of any GPL licensed software, and are the sources available?

Yes, this product makes use of GPL licensed software. Complete source code for all GPL components and those that link to GPL licenced libraries are available at https://files.samknows.com/~gpl/

Who manufactures the Whitebox?

The Whitebox is a TP-Link router running our custom firmware. It runs as a bridge, meaning that it does not provide any IP addressing and will pass network traffic straight through its ports without causing any conflicts or requiring you to reconfigure your network addressing. SamKnows provides the software.

Does the Whitebox provide a wireless network?

No. In the Measuring Broadband America project, the Whitebox does not provide a wireless network, you would use your existing modem/router to continue to provide wireless access in the home. The wireless capabilities of the device are used purely to passively monitor nearby wireless networks for traffic, ensuring that no tests are run when the line is active.

Can I use the Whitebox to connect directly to the Internet?

No. The SamKnows Whitebox is not a broadband modem or router. It operates as a bridge and connects to your existing modem/router.

How is the Whitebox connected to my network?

The Whitebox should be placed in between your existing modem/router and your networked computers. Any devices that connected via ethernet cable to your existing modem/router should instead connect to the Whitebox. This ensures that the SamKnows device is always aware of the network being used and will never run tests at a time when you require your full bandwidth to be available.

What effect will this project have on my monthly download cap?

The usage on a fixed broadband 10Mbps connection will be around 20GB/month, and will likely be around 60GB on a 50Mbps connection. The amount that’s downloaded is speed dependent (so a slower connection will use less traffic than a faster connection).

If you’ve moved onto a product with a low cap, let us know and we can apply a different testing profile (we can run smaller speed tests on a per-device basis if necessary).


Will this project affect my usage of my Internet connection?

No. Our tests are designed to be non-intrusive. The vast majority of the tests that take place throughout the day are very minor and would have no effect on normal Internet activity.

Speed tests are obviously more intensive, but before running these our units will check how busy your wired and wireless networks are. If they are transferring more than 64kbps downstream or 32kbps upstream then the tests will be deferred for 1 minute and then the process is attempted again and repeated for up to 5 minutes.

Do I get to keep the Samknows Whitebox after the project has elapsed?


How do I view my test results?

The results of the SamKnows tests are constantly updated on our site at http://reporting.SamKnows.com. You will be given a login to this site and will be able to view interactive graphs of all your test results.

You will also be emailed a “Report Card” on a monthly basis, showing the results of your tests for that month and providing an average speed for your broadband connection.

We also provide access to an iPhone and Android application for your mobile phones and tablet PCs, which will show more information on your broadband performance.

What tests does the Whitebox perform?

At present we are performing the following tests:

  1. Multi-threaded HTTP download speed test
  2. Multi-threaded HTTP based upload speed test
  3. Availability of the connection
  4. Jitter
  5. Latency (both ICMP and UDP)
  6. Packet loss (both ICMP and UDP)
  7. DNS query resolution time
  8. DNS query failure rate
  9. Web page loading time
  10. Web page loading failure rate
  11. Video streaming performance

The above tests are performed against a cluster of test servers, hosted all around the US. The web browsing test is performed against 10 real US-based websites.

We are always developing new tests and can remotely upgrade the existing units with new testing profiles once they are ready for production use. Pretty comprehensive I think you’ll agree!

How do I get technical help?

If you email us at community@samknows.com, we will be happy to help.

How easy is it to install a SamKnows Whitebox?

You don’t need any technical expertise to install a Whitebox, it’s very simple!  For an overview of the Installation instructions which come with the Whitebox, go here.

What is a Whitebox?

SamKnows has built a custom hardware device that simply plugs-in to your existing router. It runs a series of tests that have been developed by SamKnows and approved by governments and academics around the world as being the best method for measuring broadband performance. It does not require a lot of technical expertise to plug-in, it does not collect any data other than about the performance of your broadband.