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.
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