The Federal Communications Commission is encouraging consumers to test their broadband internet speeds using its speed test app. The agency’s Acting Chair Jessica Rosenworcel says doing so will help bolster the FCC's mission of collecting more accurate information on broadband speeds in different parts of the U.S.
“To close the gap between digital haves and have nots, we are working to build a comprehensive, user-friendly dataset on broadband availability,” Rosenworcel said in a statement.
“Expanding the base of consumers who use the FCC Speed Test app will enable us to provide improved coverage information to the public and add to the measurement tools we’re developing to show where broadband is truly available throughout the United States.”
Crowdsourcing speed test data
Closing the digital divide has been a top priority for the FCC in recent years. The agency is currently striving to improve the accuracy of its coverage maps in order to paint a clearer picture of where improvements are needed.
Currently, these maps primarily feature data from ISPs like Comcast and Verizon. Studies have found that the FCC’s estimates of how many Americans lack access to a broadband connection starkly contrast other data.
A 2019 study from Microsoft found that around 163 million people could not access the internet at or above broadband speeds. At the time, the FCC had put that number at an estimated 25 million people. The agency is now asking consumers to share their broadband speeds to help enhance the accuracy of its broadband maps.
Using the FCC’s Speed Test app “helps crowdsource data about broadband across the country that we can use to build better maps showing where service is and is not,” Rosenworcel tweeted.
The FCC’s Speed Test App can be downloaded from the Google Play Store for Android devices or the Apple App Store for iOS devices. The FCC says it will protect the privacy and confidentiality of consumers who decide to share their speed test results.