Are you getting the mobile broadband speed you are paying for? The Federal Communications Commission is planning to launch a new smartphone application called "FCC speed test" for users to test precisely that. The application will allow users to run download, upload and latency tests in real time. In addition, the software will also run anonymous diagnostic tests and report back all the results to the agency.
According to the published agenda, Tom Wheeler, FCC's new chairman, will present his views on the mobile app in the agency's open meeting on November 14, 2013. On the other hand, CTIA, the wireless trade association as well as all major carries including Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint have agreed to cooperate in the FCC's initiative.
The data collected through this nation-wide study will be used by the FCC to compile mobile broadband performance reports and any major carrier that seriously under performs in the tests could come under further scrutiny. In 2011, the FCC did a similar study of landline broadband speeds. Though the results were debatable, they indicated that most of the carriers did provide speeds equivalent to what they advertised.
The mobile application will be free of charge but will as of now work on Android only. "We are working on versions that would be supported on iPhones, Blackberries, and Windows devices for a later release", the mobile application FAQ says. Although the official release date of the application is incorrectly mentioned as "late spring 2013" on the FAQ page, you can sign up to receive updates on its actual release.
It remains to be seen whether these tests will be of any value, but with ever-increasing dependency on mobile for internet connectivity, the agency's step to expand its efforts to monitor mobile broadband speed is a welcome one.