F.C.C. Uses Android App to Map Speed of Mobile Networks

FCC LogoEver since I picked up my iPad Air LTE (AT&T) earlier this month I’ve been testing the AT&T network to see how much faster it is than Verizon (my work iPhone is Verizon LTE).  In my neighborhood AT&T LTE blows Verizon away to the point I attach my iPhone to my iPad hotspot to get faster speeds.  But of course what happens in Tempe, AZ doesn’t translate across the country.  We’re mostly left with commercials reminding us who the faster network everywhere else.  And heaven forbid you ask the question on Twitter.

I’ve used 3rd party tools for this testing but you have to wonder how consistent they are across the network.  Well now we’ve got the F.C.C. releasing an Android app to trying answer the question as to real networks speeds across the country.

The Federal Communications Commission has released a mobile speed test app for Android to help the agency crowdsource data about wireless performance across the country. The app, simply named the FCC Speed Test, doesn’t have the best looking design out there, but it doesn’t necessarily need to: once installed, it’ll automatically check a phone’s connection speed in the background when the device is not in use. While that’ll allow individual users to clearly see how well their own data provider is performing, it’ll more importantly allow the FCC to gather a wide amount of data on cellular carriers nationwide — that is, if its app gets enough users.

Now the kicker…

Early next year, the commission intends to release an interactive map online that’ll detail, in general, how well each data provider does in different locations. As the year goes on and it gathers more data, the FCC intends to make the map more and more detailed, adding in more local results, speed variations, and packet loss reports. It’s also promising infographics.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the F.C.C. won’t be releasing PDF maps.  I’m totally looking forward to the results.  Now being iOS only I’ll have to wait until January to take part and it appears Windows Phone and Blackberry (I guess for all those Fed users) apps will be released  as well.