FCC app measures mobile broadband access

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As part of its plan to collect more reliable and comprehensive data on high-speed broadband access across the U.S., the Federal Communications Commission is asking the public to download and run its Speed Test app on their mobile and home wireless devices. The crowdsourcing app shows users how well their mobile or Wi-Fi network performs and then encrypts the data and forwards it to the FCC — while protecting the privacy and confidentiality of program volunteers, FCC officials said.

For connections to the internet entirely through cellular networks, the app measures upload and download speeds, the latency of connections, packet loss, and jitter. For Wi-Fi networks, where performance is a result of both the Wi-Fi access point and the internet service provider’s service, the results “may not reflect the performance attainable on the fixed Internet service provider’s network,” according to the FCC’s tip sheet.

Besides the wireless access data, the FCC collects information about the handset type, its operating system, the time, date and GPS coordinates from where the test was run along with the results of active tests already recoded on the device.  The data the FCC gathers will be uploaded to the cloud and made available for post-processing, including a technical privacy analysis for any publicly released dataset, FCC officials said.

Published by  SUSAN MILLER APR 13, 2021

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