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FCC launches crowdsourced research using free Android app

15 Nov, 2013

Mobile broadband performance varies widely in geography, time of day and by device. So, published wireless broadband speeds don’t necessarily conform to what consumers are actually getting.

The same thing happens, of course, with wireline broadband – which is why Speed Matters introduced the first crowdsourced broadband speed testing back in 2007. Later, the FCC – and other organizations – followed suit and brought out online speed tests.

This week, though, the FCC announced the FCC Speed Test app for Android smartphones, “an open-source, crowdsourcing program to assess mobile broadband performance nationwide.” A iPhone version is in the works and will be released in late January, 2014.

The current app, available free at the Google Play store online, will be supplemented in 2014. Then, the FCC “will release interactive maps and other tools to allow consumers to see meaningful information about mobile broadband network performance around the country based on aggregate data collected by the app.”

The app, which has been in development for several years, will work with the cooperation with all four major wireless carriers, as well as the carrier association, CTIA.

According to the FCC, “Once installed, the app will run periodically in the background, and will automatically perform tests when users aren’t using their smartphones.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, the results of this crowdsourced testing are critical. “If mobile broadband speeds perform much as advertised, it would bolster the case of those who argue the wireless market is sufficiently competitive,” said The Journal. But if there are major discrepancies between advertised and actual speeds, it would indicate a need for further government regulation.

Speed Matters (website)

FCC unveils new, free speed test app (FCC news release, Nov. 14, 2013)

FCC Crowdsources Mobile Broadband Research With Android App
(Wall Street Journal Tech, Nov. 8, 2013)

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