14
Nov
fg

We're all spending a lot on mobile data, but are we getting our money's worth? That's the question the FCC hopes to help answer with the new FCC Speed Test app. It's exclusive to Android right now and provides you (and the FCC) with data on mobile network performance.

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Unlike most speed testing apps, this is not just a run-on-demand service. You can trigger a test whenever you want, but the app is configured to run occasional tests in the background to get a picture of your network speeds over time. It's set to only consume a maximum of 100MB per month with automated tests, not including any additional ones you might initiate.

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The app tracks upload and download speeds, of course, but also latency, packet loss, cell tower ID, signal strength, and more. You also get some neat result filtering and graphs to check out. The FCC Speed Test app is free and it is (surprisingly) not horrendously ugly – a rare win for government bureaucracy.

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Biyobe
  • Brad

    this is like the samknows router I'd gotten...

  • Mayoo

    Not compatible with my GNex
    Not compatible with my N5
    I'll have to wait to see for my N10 (not in play store, probably due to me screwing up Play Services (accident) and Framework Services to get 4.4)

    • Eric Jones

      It works on my N5. I pushed it from the Play store website, and it failed with an error. When I did it from the Play app on Android it worked fine.

    • pfmiller

      Works on my GNex.

    • sluflyer06

      Maybe you have a fake N5 ;). Says its compatible with both my 5 & '13 7.

    • Mayoo

      UPDATE : HA! My bad. The PlayStore website says incompatible but the Android PlayStore says not available in my country.

      Sad, I would have loved to see that app work with my local carriers.

  • http://www.Nave360.com Sebastian Gorgon

    Works in the UK, shows more data than Speedtest so that's good, i shall keep it.

    • Matthew Fry

      I have a feeling that was unintentional but hopefully they will keep it that way.

      • briankariu

        I have a feeling that the NSA needs all the foreign data it can get

  • Alex Vainshtein

    Receiving:
    "Test cannot be initialized - cannot find schedule configuration"

    • Rohi

      go into the menu with settings , about , terms of use , system info , activation

      select activation and you will be all set to go

    • Trip

      Also got this message, and Rohi's advice did not help.

  • Eric Jones

    Slightly unrelated, what's the deal with Playboard? Why did the apps link for the Play store get relegated to a little button, and the main section links to Playboard? I'm just curious. I'm guessing AP gets some kickback from links this way?

    • Andrés

      For me, since playboard is blocked at the company, I can't even see the links now.

    • brkshr

      I'm guessing you are correct. AP usually responds/corrects false rumors quickly.

  • EH101

    It used a bit over 12.5 mb on the first test... That 100mb cap isn't going to last long. Good thing they gave the option of a (configurable) cap.

  • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

    Yeah, I won't be installing any app that comes from the United States federal government. The end.

    • Sathya

      I really don't think that helps if someone is trying to hide ... they have got us every other way possible so using this app will make carriers a bit worried, so I am all about making more tests on the app. Sprint is so bad that I rather lose my privacy, if at all, to make them look bad in the hopes of getting better service! :)

      • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

        Meh, I have nothing to hide either. I just generally detest the feds for the fact that they waste money on crap like this.

        • Andy Stetson

          Not a waste of money, look at it like this:
          -Send researchers all over the country over the course of a year to test network speeds, moving on to a new city/coverage area daily. $$$$$$
          --or--
          -Spend $$ on app development, put it on Google Play for thousands/millions of users to install and run. Now they don't have to spend the money on per diem and other travel costs, plus salaries for hiring researchers.
          Thus, your argument is invalid and ill informed. These network tests would be done either way, this is the cheaper route.

        • John Smith

          Crowd-sourced data from all over the US is actually exceedingly efficient

        • Festivus Oz

          I am not from the US so will not speak to the privacy issues. Seems to me this will only be valuable if the FCC will exercise any enforcement for sub par service

    • https://plus.google.com/108596272537415356460/posts Jason Farrell

      Try the "GunsGodAndMoreGuns SpeedTest" app instead, by Teabaggers, Inc.

      • http://randomphantasmagoria.com/ Shawn

        Nah, Those people are complete kooks. I prefer the "RepublicansAndDemocratsAreTwoSidesOfTheSameCoin" Speed Test app, by Libertarian, Inc.

  • Ryan Stewart

    Is this just an update to the same one that was produced by ookla? Its been around for a bit but the original FCC speed test was quite buggy.

  • Ian Santopietro

    They do need to drop the courier, though.

  • Rob

    Does this mean that I have to turn off my Wi-Fi all the time to show how bad Sprint is or will it only send the data that is over the mobile data?

  • NF

    Not ugly? Dat font!

  • lucke1310

    Does this also report back to the FCC about crappy data speeds and that the carrier may in fact be guilty of false advertising? I'd love to see Death Star Mobile (aka AT&T) get in trouble from the FCC about their craptastic network.

    • blumpkinator

      Network quality varies drastically based on location. Here in Alaska ATT has spent 30+ million dollars updating and building their network. The LTE coverage around Anchroage is top notch.

    • sluflyer06

      I've been with AT&T for 11 years and had nothing but great service and I do alot of traveling as well for work. Where I live I average 36Mb down/ 12up and as high as 45Mb. Can't think of a reason I wouldn't like them.

      • lucke1310

        13 years with AT&T myself (can't get away from my unlimited data), but it's pretty obvious you're not from Southern California, where there are WAY too many people and not nearly enough cell towers to accommodate. My averages are dependent on the time of day, but peak times it's as low as 2Mb down on LTE, and off peak times can be as high as 14Mb down. That's pretty crappy if you ask me (not to mention all the dropped packets and other inconsistencies).

  • John Smith

    BEWARE - speedtest apps can use a crazy amount of data.

    • Matthew Fry

      "It's set to only consume a maximum of 100MB per month with automated tests"

      • John Smith

        yes but the manual tests can crush data and people may not be aware of that. and people might not be aware that the speedtest app in particular is brutal on data. think of it as a public service announcement.

        • Matthew Fry

          I'll allow it. *pulls gavel out of coat pocket and bangs it*

          • John Smith

            "I've used as much data in one day as I normally use in a month. I was perplexed by this at first, but then I noticed that each speedtest I was doing was using about 10 MB of data. I've done about 30 LTE speedtests in the past 24 hours which equates to about 300 MB of data consumption. Apparently, it has to download a large file in order to run the download and upload tests."

            http://www.everythingicafe.com/forum/threads/warning-lte-speedtests-use-a-lot-of-data.98900/

            "Sooo Lte came to my city around midnight on the 1st... coincidental that was when my monthly plan starts over. So I was running speed test showing like 57Mb/s I ran it about 6 times out of excitement ... huge mistake it used a little over 100MB of my data plan between showing DL and UL speeds smh. You don't notice the small amount of data its consuming when its only running 3.4Mb/s for 5 seconds each time but 57 is a huge diff. Just be forewarned lol. That's valuable data I could have saved. So I won't be doing much speed test bragging to my friends lol."

            http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1688056

          • blahmoomoo

            Uh... yeah, speed tests upload and download data. How else would it work?
            And something around 10 MB is necessary for averaging. Sustained download/upload speed is a much more useful statistic than the burst speed.

          • John Smith

            no sh1t. but i expect them to be efficient and smart about it. if that's not possible, there should be a pop up warning upon first start up of the app - "warning - this app uses XMB of data per test". is that unreasonable? is that too much to ask?????????

        • sluflyer06

          If people aren't smart enough to think about their actions, that is not the apps fault. You can't test a 25/30/40 megabit connection with a 1MB file, the files have to be large enough to sustain the download time long enough for it to stabilize. Not exactly rocket science IMO.

          • John Smith

            come on! it's not about being smart. i'm relatively technically savvy and i had no idea that these speedtests used this crazy amount of data! the poor layman out there will surely have no idea! IT IS FAR FROM OBVIOUS.

          • sluflyer06

            You don't even need to be technically savvy or that smart really, just common sense. I mean sit back and think through what your trying to accomplish and then think how can this app accomplish this? Well I"m trying to see how fast I can download, ok, so then the only way to do that is to download something and measure the time it takes to do that. So given that constraint, its logical to assume that the app will have to download data to accomplish its goal. I realize that doesn't get you as far as how much data it will use so we progress to some more common sense and basic middle school math when we learned about averages and such you'd assume because you care enough to test your fancy fast connection thats its probably pretty fast adn then we remember from school that you need a data set to get an average and the more data you have the more relevant your result will be. You simply cannot test on a tiny file because your download time is nearly instant so you need something large enough to collect meaningful data.

            I just don't buy thats its a stretch that people should realize its going to take some bandwidth use when using a test app. And then if someone is very concerned about their use because they have a low data plan, they could google about bandwidth testing apps and how much data it might use.

          • John Smith

            well it is. again - i'm smart and technically savvy and it caught me off guard. 20MB for a test is a lot of data. and that's fine - just warn me first. not too much to ask.

          • PhineasJW

            sluflyer, common sense for you, I, and some other people. Would your parents know that intuitively? Aunts? Uncles? I doubt it.

            Being unable to imagine how other people might view things makes you dangerous, not in a good way. Please don't design anything. :)

            As someone mentioned below, this could easily be made more clear by just notifying the user in the UI how much data each test consumes.

            How hard is that?

    • Ben Murphy

      Unlimited buddy, unlimited.

      • John Smith

        i don't need unlimited. i only use 1GB or less/month. but i want FAST AND UBIQUITOUS data - so i dumped Sprint and switched to Nexus 5 + AT&T GoPhone 2GB $60 no contract plan. and that combo is a BEAUTIFUL thing.

        • Bill Blandford

          Thinking of going with that combo myself John. Does Wi-Fi tethering work? Native or app?

          • John Smith

            yes sir. the native KIT KAT tethering works on the Nexus 5 + AT&T GoPhone.

          • Bill Blandford

            Thanks, John.

          • John Smith

            you're welcome. get it if you can. it's a beautiful combo!!!

          • Bill Blandford

            Yeah. I'm waiting for my VZW contract to end mid Dec, and for CarbonROM to bring some customization to 4.4

          • John Smith

            IMO put your order in now and get it in a few weeks! dump VZW early if you have to - prorated ETF won't be much. ROMs can come later! good luck!!!

          • Bill Blandford

            Disagree. ROM features is priority one for me. Vanilla kit Kat makes me sad on my N7

  • tharealoc

    I hope this app will get carriers to fix the problems they have...Big Red is not spectacular along the california coast..needs to be fixed

  • Mah Gwo Huei

    Can someone provide apk download since it is not compatible with my device. I believe it is region lock.

  • geekingtastic

    Is not compatible with Bell SIV or Nexus 7 grouper!

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