What is the project all about?
The project’s goal is to create a community of broadband consumers across Europe, to join the already extensive communities in the USA and the UK. Each of these volunteers will host a SamKnows Whitebox which will run tests on the performance of the Internet connection. They will also get access to the data collected via the SamKnows reporting system. The individuals will be able to put their own ISPs to the test and the Community data will be used for country specific and special interest reports.
How many people are you looking for?
We want to send out over 10,000 Whiteboxes to people across Europe to join the SamKnows broadband measurement Community.
How long will the project run for?
The project is ongoing and we will continue to collect data for country specific and special interest reports. We thank the current volunteers for their commitment to the project and will be recruiting more volunteers to help us with this invaluable ongoing work to improve broadband performance in Europe.
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.
What tests does the SamKnows Whitebox run?
The SamKnows Whitebox currently performs the following tests:
- Multi-threaded HTTP download speed test
- Multi-threaded HTTP based upload speed test
- Availability of the connection
- Latency (both ICMP and UDP)
- Packet loss (both ICMP and UDP)
- DNS query resolution time
- DNS query failure rate
- Web page loading time
- Web page loading failure rate
How much bandwidth is used by the SamKnows tests?
The Whiteboxes download approximately 3GB per month and upload around 1GB if you’re on a sub-50Mbps product. For products faster than 50Mbps the usage volume is higher and varies by product speed. If you’re on a product with a low usage cap then we’d advise against signing up, or at least informing us beforehand so that we can apply a different testing profile.
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 will also be providing access to an iPhone and Android application for your mobile phones and tablet PCs, which will show more information on your broadband performance.
What happens to the SamKnows Whitebox at the end of the project?
At the end of the project, you may keep the Whitebox for your own personal use.
If I would like to quit the project, do I have to hand back the Whitebox?
Yes. If you would like to leave the project, we will require you to return of the Whitebox.
How is the Whitebox connected to my network?
The Whitebox should be placed in between your existing router and your networked computers. Any devices that connected via ethernet cable to your existing 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.
Does the Whitebox provide a wireless network?
No. In the European project, the Whitebox does not provide a wireless network. 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 router.
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 SamKnows make use of any GPL licenced software, and are the sources available?
The software included in the Whitebox contains copyrighted software that is licensed under the General Public License (“GPL”). You can find a copy of the GPL here: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html. Please print and keep your copy of the licence.
The software is subject to the copyright of various authors.
The software is provided WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.
You can obtain the source code to all the software in the Whitebox that is licensed under the GPL in two ways:
(1) you can download the source code here: https://files.samknows.com/~gpl/; or
(2) you can request a CD containing the source code by emailing us here: firstname.lastname@example.org. We make a charge of £5 plus postage for supplying CDs.
The source code will be available for three years after our last shipment of the Whitebox. This offer is valid for anyone in receipt of this information.
What data does SamKnows collect about me?
SamKnows will require your name, address, and email address in order to ship you the Whitebox and set you up as a user on our systems. This information is not shared with any other party.
Can you see what I’m browsing?
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.
How do I install the SamKnows Whitebox?
- 1. Remove the Whitebox and accessories from the box. The box should include:
- A. 1x TP-Link router (model varies)
- B. 1x Ethernet cable
- C. 1-3x wireless antennae (varies with model)
- D. Power supply
- E. Instruction & information sheet
- 2. Attach the antennae to the back of the Whitebox.
- 3. Connect the Ethernet cable to the port marked “WAN” on the rear of the Whitebox.
- 4. Connect the other end of the Ethernet cable to a spare port on your broadband router.
- 5. Disconnect any other wired network devices from your broadband router, and connect them to the SamKnows Whitebox instead via the ports marked 1-4.
- 6. Connect the power cable to the Whitebox, and insert the power plug into a power socket.
- 7. Observe the LEDs on the front of the Whitebox. The QSS light should flicker for 30-60 seconds, then turn solid green when the device is operating correctly.
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.