The UK Telecommunications regulator, Ofcom, has awarded a contract to research, analyse and collect internet data in the UK to Samknows, a website that has collaborated in 2008 with the industry watchdog to create a method to benchmark ISPs in the UK.
Samknows has developed a "white box" (ed: surely that should be blackbox) which is located in the user's home and tracks the performance of the broadband connection continuously.
Like a utility meter, users will be able to consult the data collected; those looking to help can become volunteers of the scheme and see how their internet connection performs (sign up page is here).
The CEO of Samknows, Alex Salter said: "What we're looking to measure in the forthcoming project is how this ISP performance will improve as consumers switch to services which are being advertised as significantly faster."
The initial trials which were carried out in 2008 across 1,600 connections showed that the average nationwide speed was only 4.3Mbps, which was just over half what ADSL based ISPs have been promising.
ISPreview also points out to the fact that the Whitebox can consume up to 2GB worth of your quota as it transmits and receives data. It is therefore strongly advisable not to volunteer if you have a small usage allowance.
Samknows has been actually appointed as the Technical partner for broadband performance testing by Ofcom and its contract will run until April 2012. It would be interesting to find out whether a similar scheme for mobile broadband will be rolled out soonish.