The FCC is ready to start grading mobile broadband performance under its Measuring Mobile America program.
Building on the model for the Federal Communications
Commission's ongoing Measuring Broadband America program, the FCC announced the
country's first nationwide mobile broadband performance-measurement program,
Measuring Mobile America. The program, created to help test mobile performance
data, follows a July FCC report indicating broadband service providers are
offering faster Internet speeds and more accurate bandwidth indicators.
A number of major wireless carriers,
including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, as well as the CTIA wireless
association, are cooperating with the FCC on the new program. The FCC also
announced it will hold an open meeting to discuss the new program Sept. 21,
where it said it hopes to obtain the participation of other critical
stakeholders, including the public research community.
"We know from experience: transparency on
broadband speeds drives improvement in broadband speeds. Our ongoing Measuring
Broadband America program has helped improve performance in wired broadband,"
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said in a prepared statement. "Our new mobile
broadband measurement initiative extends the program to smartphones and other
wireless devices. It will empower consumers and encourage improvements in
mobile networks and programs, benefitting millions of Americans."
On the FCC's Website, the commission
explained that the open meeting would include discussions with commission staff
from the Office of Engineering and Technology and the Consumer and Government
Affairs Bureau and interested parties about the technical methods for
performance testing of mobile broadband Internet service, various approaches to
acquiring and analyzing the data and other considerations for the testing of
mobile broadband performance.
"The experience gained within the Measuring
Broadband America program has proven the value of working with a broad range of
participants, including industry and the public research community, on the
complex technical challenges related to broadband performance measurement and
study," an FCC statement noted. "As the Measuring Broadband America program has
proven, the broadband performance data produced by the statistically sound
methodology of the program allows comparisons and analyses that are valuable to
consumers and spur competition among service providers."
The July report, which reflects data
collected from participating broadband providers in April 2012, found
significant improvement in the accuracy of broadband providers' promises of
performance and the speed tier and receiving of faster broadband speeds. The
FCC report found that the average speed tier that consumers were subscribing to
increased almost 30 percent in just one year. During the time period measured
for the July 2012 report, the advertised download speed accuracy level rose to
96 percent, up from 87 percent from the prior year.