A test bed for mobile broadband performance

A test bed for mobile broadband performance

The FCC’s mobile speed-test app gets an enthusiastic early reception.


FCC Speed Test App for Android

The Android app was installed 30,000 times in two days, says the FCC.

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is getting lots of takers for its mobile broadband speed test.

FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel tweeted on Nov. 22 that the app has been installed more than 30,000 times, suggesting the commission will have a meaningful sample size to gauge the performance of mobile broadband networks.

The app is part of a broader FCC effort called “Measuring Broadband America” that aims to improve Americans’ access to impartial information about broadband provider performance. The app generates info on upload and download speeds, as well as on packet loss – that is, how efficiently IP data is being transmitted. Those findings will then be compared to what broadband service providers promise consumers when they sign up.

In the first day of availability of an Android-compatible app on the Google Play store, users contributed 40,000 tests measuring upstream and downstream speeds, latency and packet loss. As this map shows, the tests came from just about…everywhere.



An iPhone version of the FCC Speed Test app should be available by the end of January. “We know from experience,” FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said, “that this type of transparency about broadband speeds is not only helpful to consumers on a day-to-day basis, but also that it can drive improvements in network performance.”

The app, according to the commission, will help the FCC amass data about broadband speeds from consumers nationwide. That information, in turn, will be used to create an interactive map that will give consumers a tool to use in comparison shopping for mobile broadband service.

Addition: Early feedback seems generally positive, with the Android app fetching a four-plus "star" rating on Google's Android app store. But some users have noted the app fails to make a distinction between measurements taken from Wi-Fi network connections and those native to the cellular network. Wrote one: "It measures speeds on Wi-Fi and reports it as cellular. Seems like that is a major issue if they want to objectively see what cellular data speeds are."

Download the Android App here