FCC Launches Speed Test App
The Federal Communications Commission is hoping to bring America's broadband maps into tighter focus. A new speed test app announced by the FCC is hoping to help with that effort.
The new app can be downloaded to both Android and iOS devices. The speed test data captured by the app will then be used to help the FCC determine where broadband is "truly available".
“To close the gap between digital haves and have nots, we are working to build a comprehensive, user-friendly dataset on broadband availability," she said. "Expanding the base of consumers who use the FCC Speed Test app will enable us to provide improved coverage information to the public and add to the measurement tools we’re developing to show where broadband is truly available throughout the United States.” - FCC Acting Chair Jessica Rosenworcel, as reported by NextTV
The collection of speed test data is a good tool in measuring DELIVERED speeds versus ADVERTISED speeds. Current broadband maps are primarily based on available speeds at the census block level as reported by internet providers. Gathering actual speeds in a more tightly defined geographical area helps develop more granular maps, which should help policy makers develop programs to address the biggest gaps.
One challenge for the FCC's new app: it's designed for mobile devices running Android and iOS. That means people will be taking the test from their smartphones and tablets, not a desktop computer. It is likely that much of the speed test data captured will be from cellular data, not landline carriers. Hopefully the FCC can parse the data collected in order to get an accurate picture.
4/14/2021 09:22:32 am
This is not a new app. The version history goes back seven years. There is a setting under "More" in the bottom menu to toggle using cellular data on and off. It is a problem that the platforms tests run on are WiFi-only unless you use a dongle. Most dongles are limited to 100 Mbps, you have to be very deliberate when purchasing a dongle to get one capable of 1 Gbps. Some devices do not have a connector capable of 1 Gbps. Even a 1 Gbps dongle will mis-represent providers that have multi-gigabit services.
4/14/2021 09:33:02 am
Charles, it is based on the old Sam Knows speed test but the FCC is re-launching it as new. Like you, I'm doubtful people will necessarily know to take it from a WiFi connection, not cellular. But, keep in mind that most of the people taking this test (and the areas the FCC really needs better data from) are not served by multi-gigabit providers. If you're on a sub-100 Mbps connection the speeds between a WiFi connected device and one with an ethernet connection are not likely to differ as much.
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