The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is rolling out a broadband speed test app for Android phones beginning this week, with plans for an iOS version sometime later down the road. The app was announced at the Nov. 14 meeting, which was the first under the agency's new chairman Tom Wheeler.
"If we are going to be making fact-based decisions, we need facts," said Wheeler, "and you are enlisting the American people for those facts."
Wheeler called the app's release a public beta and said the FCC would be seeking feedback and constantly improving the app. Wheeler also said that privacy was a key element and that he was pleased with how the FCC kept the issue at the forefront of all discussions and planning.
"This will help shine a light on actual speeds," said Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who added that mining the 400,000 consumer complaints the FCC gets a year would also be another way to tap into the collective wisdom of the public.
Commissioner Ajit Pai said he was pleased that the FCC had worked with privacy experts to insure that the app anonymized data and did not collect personal info. He said he expected the app would demonstrate the strength of the wireless industry, but said to continue that, more mobile spectrum needed to be freed up.
Commissioner O'Rielly said that on the fixed side broadband providers were overdelivering, rather than under delivering, on speeds. O'Rielly said that speed tests can be very expensive – as much as $500,000 – and suggested that the FCC could hold a contest in the future for outsiders to come up with an app.
The FCC said that it hopes to have national numbers on broadband speeds in first quarter 2014 and would provide more granular results later in the year.
Source: Broadcasting Cable