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By GCN Staff

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FCC releases its own mobile performance testing app

The Federal Communications Commission recently released its eagerly anticipated Speed Test phone app, which will measure mobile broadband performance for Android users. Developed in cooperation with SamKnows Ltd., the app performs periodic tests when the phone is not in use, and it also allows for manual tests by the user. If the app gets enough users, the FCC will be able to gather speed data on cellular carriers nationwide.

With this information, the FCC intends to release an online interactive map that will detail how well each data provider does in different locations, including network performance, upload and download speed, latency, packet loss and other performance factors. All four major wireless carriers have agreed to participate in the app, and the FCC has stated that no personally identifiable information will be collected. 

While this is a first for the FCC, the broadband speed test is not a new concept. Speedtest.net, launched in 2006, is a popular website and app from Ookla. It allows users to test data connection speeds and publishes all available data on its website. The FCC is following suit with this crowdsourced mobile performance testing, which is in line with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s goals to ensure adequate competition in the wireless and broadband markets. 

"Knowledge about how various mobile broadband providers compare, at specific locations in a geographic market, will aid [mobile users] in choosing the provider that best suits their needs," FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn said in a statement. "Transparent information about service performance does not just enable consumers to select among service offerings in a meaningful way. It also creates incentives for providers to improve those services." 

The app works by collecting user location, device type including operating system, time of data collection and cellular and broadband performance characteristics, such as signal strength and speed, FCW reported. An iPhone version of the app is expected to be released in January 2014.

Posted by GCN Staff on Nov 22, 2013 at 9:09 AM


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