FCC to Measure Mobile Broadband Speed and Performance


The FCC has expanded its Measuring Broadband America program to include mobile broadband.

"We know from experience: transparency on broadband speeds drives improvement in broadband speeds. Our ongoing Measuring Broadband America program has helped improve performance in wired broadband," FCC chairman Julius Genachowski said in announcing the new tests. "Our new mobile broadband measurement initiative extends the program to smart phones and other wireless devices."

According to the FCC, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, as well as their principal trade association, CTIA, have agreed to cooperate and the FCC has scheduled a meeting for Sept. 21 to discuss the program.

It will also enlist the input of public interest groups, researchers and others.

Rather than advertised speeds, which FCC broadband data collection has been based on, the Measuring Broadband America study -- the FCC recently released its second report -- which was pitched in the National Broadband Plan, measures speed and performance "delivered to the home." Given that advertised and actual speed can vary, that allows for "scientific" comparisons of different service providers. Major ISPs, including top cable operators, participate in the wired measurement program.

The announcement follows the FCC's release of its latest advanced services deployment report card which included a Notice of Inquiry asking, among other things, whether the FCC should start counting mobile broadband toward that benchmark, something that a real-world speed/performance test could facilitate.