The Federal Communications Commission unveiled three digital tools Thursday that will enable consumers, businesses, schools and other organizations to test the real-world performance of their fixed and mobile broadband connections and help identify gaps in the nation's broadband coverage. The tools include downloadable applications for mobile devices based on Google's Android platform and Apple's iPhone OS.
With the launch of the testing apps , the commission's goal is to empower consumers, promote innovation and investment, and encourage competition by fostering transparency, noted FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
"The FCC's new digital tools will arm users with real-time information about their broadband connection and the agency with useful data about service across the country," Genachowski said. "By informing consumers about their broadband service quality, these tools help eliminate confusion and make the market work more effectively."
Seeking the Public's Input
The fixed broadband test tool at broadband.gov measures connection speed and latency, and reports the results directly to users as well as the FCC. What's more, the commission has launched a broadband reporting tool that will enable Americans to submit the address of a "dead zone" where broadband connectivity is unavailable.
The mobile test tools for Android and iPhone OS devices are available from the Android Market and Apple's App Store. "In the future, the FCC anticipates making additional broadband testing applications available for consumer use and across different mobile platforms," noted broadband task force attorney-adviser Jordan Usdan in a blog.
All three offerings will help the commission gather data to analyze broadband performance and availability on a geographic basis, Usdan noted. To protect user privacy, the FCC said it will not release any personal information gathered by the new tools.
The FCC's national broadband plan, which is slated for release next week, will recommend ways in which Congress can help consumers understand the difference between the maximum speed tiers that the nation's service providers advertise and real-world broadband speeds. "These proposals will further the goals of disclosure and transparency and empower consumers to drive competition in a technology-neutral manner," Usdan explained.
A Competition Red Flag
The FCC also intends to call for the creation of a National Digital Literacy Corps to help individuals develop the skills they need to enjoy a comfortable and productive online experience. However, the biggest barrier to broadband that Congress will need to find ways to overcome is cost, noted FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. (continued...)
Posted: 2010-03-12 @ 11:10am PT
Many reputable sites have tested the broadband.gov site and the results aren't very good.
Here's one such example: