SamKnows Whitebox - Broadband Monitoring

Do you ever sign up for something, forget about it, then get pleasantly surprised when a parcel turns up at your door? No? Just me?

Last year, I noticed that the SamKnows website were looking for volunteers to take part in their European broadband survey. The product is the rather uninspiring named "Whitebox".

The SamKnows Whitebox is an industry-approved measuring device, designed to measure performance of your broadband connection. It has been developed to enable you to accurately measure the performance of your ISP.

The European Commission selected SamKnows in 2011 to measure broadband performance across all member states within the European Union.

It really is simple to set up - as my unboxing video video shows.

The box works by downloading approximately 3GB per month and uploading around 1GB. It senses when the wireless and wired connections are being used so as to make sure that the tests are fair and don't interrupt your browsing.

Technical Details

The box runs the GPL'd OpenWRT firmware. SamKnows haven't skimped on their obligations under the GPL - all the code can be found at

A quick nmap shows that the box is indeed running Linux. It has port 2222 open for the Dropbear SSH daemon. This fits in with their FAQ which says

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.


I'm supposed to be getting 16Mbps on an ADSL2+ line (theoretical max of 24Mbps). I'm reasonably close to the exchange and all our local boxes have been upgraded for FTTC.

I'm reasonably pleased with the speeds I get, but I'd love to know how consistent they are. When I've got a slow YouTube video - is the problem with YouTube, my ISP, or my WiFi?

SamKnows have a fairly comprehensive testing suite and, after a month, I'll be able to view my report online and, eventually, via my smartphone.

This is a really welcome development for the ISP industry. After years of misleading adverts and dodgy speed provisioning, we may finally start to get some transparency.
SamKnows Whitebox

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