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Measuring Broadband America

Measuring Broadband America is an ongoing, rigorous nationwide study of consumer broadband performance in the United States. The Measuring Broadband America program developed out of a recommendation in the National Broadband Plan (NBP) to improve the availability of information for consumers about their broadband service.

In September 2012, the FCC announced that it was expanding the program to include information on mobile broadband service performance in the United States. The program uses the FCC Speed Test app for Android to test the performance of volunteers' smartphone mobile broadband services, broadband performance data is being collected about upload and download speed, latency and packet loss, as well as the wireless performance characteristics of the broadband connection and the kind of handsets and versions of operation systems tested.

Privacy
The FCC has taken significant measures to ensure the privacy and confidentiality of volunteers for this program. All data is collected anonymously, and no personally-identifiable information is collected. Using privacy measures developed and reviewed by FTC officials and academic privacy experts, any data that could potentially identify specific smartphones is analyzed and processed to ensure that subscribers’ privacy interests are protected. The FCC is committed to ensuring that only network data is collected. See our Mobile Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy for details.

How it Works
The FCC Speed Test app is available for Android phones from Google Play. An iPhone app will be made available soon in the Apple App Store. The application will measure mobile broadband performance in four active categories: download speed, upload speed, latency, and packet loss. To better analyze wireless broadband performance, several other passive metrics are recorded, such as signal strength of the connection, and device manufacturer and model. The application tests run periodically in the background.

The total amount of data used by the application is configured by default not to exceed 100 MB per month. The amount of data the application should use, as well as when the data cap will reset are all configurable. While the tests are engineered not to interfere with a user's broadband Internet use, the application can also be configured not to perform any automated background testing.

Data Usage
The total amount of data used by the application is configured by default not to exceed 100 MB per month. The amount of data the application should use, as well as when the data cap will reset are all configurable. While the tests are engineered not to interfere with a user's broadband Internet use, the application can also be configured not to perform any automated background testing.

Manual Testing vs. Automated Testing
We encourage volunteers to use automated testing. The FCC Speed Test app automated testing function can be disabled and the app can be configured to start a test only when manually executed . However, manual testing can lead to biased results when performed only at specific times or places, and may provide a less accurate picture of overall broadband performance. Automatic background tests contribute more-valuable, high-quality data that help inform our reports and provide the most accurate data about mobile broadband performance.

Finding More About the Technical Details More detail about the technology behind the app can be found in the Mobile Broadband Methodology Technical Summary.

Updated: November 14, 2013
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