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College students asked to help test Internet speeds

Quick Internet access—while desirable for most people—is vitally important for students of today’s colleges and universities, which deliver much of their course materials online. These students are often frustrated, or even hampered in obtaining a degree, by limited home access to broadband Internet services. Virginia Tech’s “Accelerate Virginia” campaign is gathering information to address this issue by asking people all over Virginia, but particularly students, to test the speed of their Internet connections and report the results, in order to create an accurate map of broadband Internet availability.

To run the test, Internet users should go to http://acceleratevirginia.org/speedtest/ and follow the instructions. After completing the speed test, participants will receive a detailed summary of their connection characteristics, and a summary of what other residents in the area are reporting about their service, including provider names, connection types, speed averages and satisfaction ratings. They will learn how their Internet providers compare with others that are locally available, and will be able to identify possible alternatives to their current service. Users of Apple iPhone or Android mobile platforms are encouraged to install the free FCC Broadband Test App, available at http://apps.usa.gov/fcc-mobile-broadband-test.shtml, to test the speed of their mobile connections.

“We are asking everyone in Virginia with a residential or business Internet connection to participate by running a speed test,” says Angela Correa, communications manager for Accelerate Virginia. “Students, specifically, can help and make a difference by passing on the word to their friends and family, in person or through social networks.” In order to make the map as complete and accurate as possible, it is hoped that a large majority of Internet users will participate. While the test is primarily aimed at residential users, commercial customers are also encouraged to take the speed test from their business locations. The campaign’s goal is to collect 300 to 500 speed tests per county.

Persons who cannot receive high-speed Internet services at all, or who have questions about “Accelerate Virginia,” may contact Jean Plymale at 540-231-2270, 540- 231-8490, or vplymale@vt.edu.

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