FCC To Test Mobile Broadband Speeds… In Due Time

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!”


Edit Your Comment

  1. missy070203 says:

    safe to say this is never going to happen

  2. PragmaticGuy says:

    I can see testing broadband services as people pay for certain speeds but as for wireless, there’s too many variables such as buildings, cell location, etc. This will be like the EPA telling you what mileage your car gets and then saying “your mileage may vary.”

  3. dush says:

    How many people work at the FCC and what do they actually do all day?

  4. luxosaucer13 says:

    I’m the director of IT for my business and the boss had me use speedtest.net to check his US Cellular android phone.

    We used a fully updated Windows 7 notebook running IE9, using the mobile hotspot feature on his phone, and got a speed of 745 kbps in a rural area (3G EV-DO), which isn’t bad actually. Household DSL starts out at 1500 kbps (1200 kbps in the “real world”).

    When we used Sprint phones, in the same geographical area and with 3G EV-DO service, our speedtest result was around 130 kbps, with the same notebook running IE9. His Sprint phone was an HTC EVO and his US Cellular phone is the Galaxy S3.

  5. do-it-myself says:

    Heh. By the time they start this, Sprint’s service will actually be GOOD again….which will also coincide with the discontinuation of their unlimited data.

    • luxosaucer13 says:

      Sprint, in it’s current state, could never match what we have now. That’s why we left. In order to match what we have they’d have to have the following (for starters):

      1. A program like US Cellular’s Belief Project (http://www.uscellular.com/the-belief-project/faqs.html).
      2. More cell towers.
      3. Service Techs in all their corporate-owned stores.
      4. Vastly improved customer service (reps can make needed adjustments to billing mistakes without having to call customer care or get a manager involved).
      5. Faster internet speed. Unlimited internet does a person no good if it’s not usable.
      6. Oh, did I mention MORE CELL TOWERS??

      Plus, they’d have to stop treating their customers like cash registers too.