Late last week, the FCC published the agenda for its commission meeting next week—the first with newly-appointed chairman Tom Wheeler at the helm. In that agenda, the FCC said it would hear a presentation on the new FCC Speed Test App for Android. The organization plans to make this app public in the hopes that smartphone users will measure their data speeds and send the results back to the FCC to compile and analyze the results.
This isn’t the first speed test app that the FCC has been a part of, but it will be the first time the FCC has made efforts to crowdsource information on carrier speeds. (The author remembers using an old app made by a developer called Ookla that had the FCC’s logo emblazoned on it back in 2011 when she was employed at PC World. It appears that the “FCC-approval” branding was dropped from that app in the years since.)
The new app will likely function much like the old one, measuring upload speeds, download speeds, and latency for all major carriers. The Wall Street Journal reports that the commission has the cooperation of all four major carriers as well as the wireless trade association CTIA. “Given the paucity of information on mobile broadband availability and prices, this type of data collection seems like the first step toward evaluating whether Americans are getting what they pay for from their carriers in terms of mobile data speeds,” writes the WSJ.
An FAQ for the app on the FCC’s site incorrectly states that it will be available in “late spring 2013” and urges interested parties to sign up to get updates on the app’s release. You can still sign up though, and it seems like the commission is moving ahead now—better late than never.