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FCC Releases Apps To Independently Test The Speed Of Wireless Networks

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Looking for real-time data of its own, the FCC (yes, the regulatory body in Washington, D.C.) has released a mobile app for iPhone and Android. Don’t worry, the feds aren’t interested in listening to your phone conversations, rather they say the purpose of the app is to provide “Americans with additional information about heir mobile data connection and to create awareness about the importance of mobile broadband connection quality.”

Essentially, the app clocks how long it takes to download and upload data to the phone. The release of the two apps come just days before the Commission is set to release its new national broadband plan on March 16, which will heavily stress the need for mobile data networks.

The FCC says it may use the data collected from the apps to “analyze coverage and quality on a geographic basis in the U.S.” That means, it may start to have its own information to fact-check the data that carriers give them. While the random tests conducted by random citizens probably can not be considered scientific, it may do just what the Commission intends — make citizens more aware of the speeds they are getting.

When conducting the test on a Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Nexus One on T-Mobile’s network in Seattle, results indicated that the 3G network performance was .29 mbps down and .35 mbps up. Tests by an iPhone in Los Angeles and a Verizon Wireless Droid in Seattle blew those results away. The iPhone registered 3G speeds of 1.35 mbps down and .21 mbps up. Verizon’s Droid clocked in at 1.71 mbps down and .82 mbps up.

The tools are also available at for measuring fixed broadband connections, although to test mine, I just turned WiFi on in my phone. In the future, reports that the FCC says it will make additional broadband testing apps available for consumer use.

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