FCC to Begin Mobile Broadband Speed Tests
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.