What is the project all about?
The project's goal is to create a community of broadband consumers across Canada to join the already extensive communities in the USA and the UK. Each volunteer will host a SamKnows Whitebox, which will run tests on the performance of their Internet connection. Volunteers will also get access to the data collected via the SamKnows reporting system. Individuals will be able to put their own ISPs to the test, and the collected Community data will be used by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (the "CRTC") to measure the current performance of ISPs across Canada.
How long will the project run for?
The project will be renewed on a yearly basis, but we hope that this will be an ongoing effort to benchmark the state of Canadian broadband.
How many people are you looking for?
We want to send out over 6,000 Whiteboxes to people across Canada to join the SamKnows broadband measurement Community.
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, and 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-based download speed test
- Multi-threaded HTTP-based upload speed test
- Latency (both ICMP and UDP)
- Packet loss (both ICMP and UDP)
What happens to the SamKnows Whitebox as 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 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 never runs tests at a time when you require your full bandwidth to be available.
Does the Whitebox provide a wireless network?
No. In the Canadian project, the Whitebox does not provide a wireless network. The wireless capabilities of the device are used purely to monitor nearby wireless networks passively 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:
- you can download the source code here: https://files.samknows.com/~gpl/; or
- you can request a CD containing the source code by emailing us here: firstname.lastname@example.org. We charge £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.
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 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.
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.
What effect will this project have on my monthly download cap?
The effect on your monthly data cap will be slightly different depending on what ISP you are on. If you are on Northwestel, then the usage on a fixed-broadband 10x1Mbps connection will be around 1.8GB/month; on a 20x5Mbps connection, around 3.3GB/month; on a 50x5 connection, around 6GB; and on a 100x10Mbps connection, likely around 12.2GB. The amount that's downloaded is speed dependent (so a slower connection will use less traffic than a faster connection).
How do I install the SamKnows Whitebox?
Installing a SamKnows Whitebox is simple and doesn't require technical expertise. For full instructions, please click here.
How secure is the device? Does it allow you access to my network?
The device listens on SSH on a non-standard port for debug access. None of the measurement applications listen on any ports. As the Whitebox is installed behind the home router this means that this SSH port would not be exposed to the Internet, unless you setup a port forward. For troubleshooting we may ask users to setup a port forward when we need to debug an issue.