Although US-based internet service providers would have you believe that they provide excellent network coverage to the entire country, that’s not quite accurate — especially not for those in rural areas or other underserved markets. Unfortunately, without any adequate competition in these regions, customers are left with little choice but to accept whatever (often slow) speeds their local provider offers.
That could change in the future, though. Instead of relying on slanted and at times inaccurate internet coverage maps from ISPs, Biden’s FCC wants to recruit you — the end user — to gather more accurate maps. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel took to Twitter to ask the public to download the official FCC Speed Test App.
By using the app, you’ll be sending data back to FCC headquarters. The Commissioners can use these crowdsourced results to gather up-to-date information on both coverage and speeds nationwide. If the FCC finds that certain areas have dramatically lower speeds than others, it can then decide whether or not to allocate additional federal funding to those regions — hopefully boosting speeds.
“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.”
Unfortunately, the FCC Speed Test app is not available for desktop platforms, so if you don’t use a smartphone or tablet to access the internet (however unlikely that may be), you probably won’t be able to contribute. If you do, though, you can snag the app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store for iOS and Android, respectively.
The app offers both manual and automated speed tests. The latter is enabled by default and will run “periodic” speed tests in the background, to test things like download and upload speeds, latency, “jitter,” and packet loss. You can switch off the automated testing if you’d prefer, and the tests can run over both wi-fi and cellular connections.