For two years now, the Federal Communications Commission has been looking at terrestrial broadband services to see which DSL/cable/fiber/string-and-cans providers are actually delivering the speeds they promise. So it only makes sense for the FCC to start looking at just how quickly U.S. consumers are able to download data over mobile networks. Unfortunately, the federal government still moves at the speed of a crappy dial-up line.
So rather than announcing that it will begin testing mobile broadband tests later this month — or during any month in the foreseeable future — the FCC will kick this process into low gear with a meeting on Sept. 21 to discuss the program.
From the FCC announcement:
At the open meeting, Commission staff from the Office of Engineering and Technology and the Consumer and Government Affairs Bureau will discuss with interested parties the technical methods for performance testing of mobile broadband Internet service, methodological approaches to remotely acquiring and analyzing such data, and other methodological considerations for the testing of mobile broadband performance.
While we agree that these are all things that need to be discussed openly, we hope the FCC moves quickly on these tests. While fixed broadband services are often sold according to specific (if overly hopeful) up/down speeds using terminology that allows consumers to compare, the wireless world is still a nebulous cloud of alphanumeric terms like 3G, 4G and LTE that don’t have any precise meaning for users.
Consumers could use a comprehensive comparison showing what each provider is actually delivering to customers, rather than vague hyperbolic declarations from every carrier who claims to have the “nation’s fastest” this or that kind of network.
The FCC says it has already gotten commitments to cooperate from the country’s major wireless players (which isn’t saying much, considering how few of them remain). So, in the words of the great Thomas Jefferson, “Kick the tires and light the fires!”