About the Consumer Broadband Test (Beta)
The purpose of the Consumer Broadband Test (Beta) is to give consumers additional information about the quality of their broadband connections and to create awareness about the importance of broadband quality in accessing content and services over the internet. Additionally, the FCC may use data collected from the Consumer Broadband Test (Beta), along with submitted street addresses, to analyze broadband quality and availability on a geographic basis across the United States.
The Consumer Broadband Test is the FCC’s first attempt at providing consumers with real-time information about the quality of their broadband connections. This test will enable consumers to measure the quality of their broadband connection by transferring a small temporary file back and forth and measuring the results. While the test will give consumers some information on relative speeds, the FCC does not endorse this as a definitive testing method. In the future, the FCC anticipates making additional broadband testing applications available for consumer use. The FCC does not endorse any specific testing application.
The test currently runs exclusively on the Measurement Lab (M-Lab) platform. If you are interested in using an alternate test, another free popular consumer broadband testing tool is available from Ookla at www.speedtest.net.
Read Measuring Broadband America, the first nationwide performance study of residential wireline broadband service in the United States.
What does the application do, and how accurate is it?
The test will transfer a small amount of generic data back and forth between your computer and an M-Lab server. More detailed methodology is explained below. The application attempts to find a server that is relatively close to your location, in order to provide accurate results.
Please note that the Consumer Broadband Test in its current software-based form may not be an accurate representation of connection quality provided by your broadband provider. The results can be impacted by a range of factors -- for instance, the test can vary based on the geographical distance of the user from the testing server, end-user hardware, network congestion, and time of day. However, this application can provide a helpful indicator in comparing consumers’ relative broadband connection quality and in understanding the performance metrics of broadband connections.
What does speed mean?
The test measures your bandwidth, in terms of the rate at which data can be transmitted between your computer and the testing servers. Your "speed" determines the time it takes to receive or send data; the download speed refers to the rate from the testing server to you, and the upload speed is from you to the testing server. It is measured in terms of how many kilobits of data you can transfer per second kbps). File sizes are normally indicated in terms of "bytes," and a byte is equal to 8 bits. In other words, 1000 kilobits per second is equal to 125 kilobytes per second.
What do latency and jitter mean?
We also provide a measurement of latency, which is the time it takes for a single packet to be sent from your computer to the testing server and then back again (the "round trip time"). This is measured in milliseconds. Latency will be greater across longer distances (i.e., if you are farther away from a testing server), and can also be impacted by a range of other factors, including network congestion. Jitter is a measure of the variability in latency. Latency and jitter can particularly impact the performance of real-time applications, such VoIP and gaming.
Is there a Mobile version of the Broadband Consumer Test?
The FCC plans to release a free Mobile Consumer Broadband Test for the Android mobile platform in spring 2013. The official name of the App will be “Mobile Measuring Broadband America (mMBA).” You will be able to download this tool to your Android enabled device by accessing the App Store on your handheld phone. The Android app market is available here: http://www.android.com/market/
The Mobile Measuring Broadband America app has been designed via a collaboration between the FCC, U.S. mobile carriers, and other industry stakeholders. The purpose of the app is to accurately measure American mobile broadband performance. Once installed, the app will run a series of tests to measure every aspect of the mobile network and mobile broadband performance. This initiative is aimed at developing comprehensive reporting of mobile broadband performance, like our current residential Measuring Broadband America program.
To receive an email when the Measuring Broadband America mobile app is available for download, please visit our Measuring Broadband America mobile app page.
About the Testing Applications and Methodology:
This application will transfer a small temporary file back and forth to test the quality of your broadband connection:
- Download Speed: The speed at which data is sent from the testing server to your computer.
- Upload Speed: The speed at which data is sent from your computer to the testing server.
- Latency: The time it takes for data to be sent from your computer to the testing server and back (the "round trip time").
- Jitter: The variability in the delay between your computer and the testing server.
The FCC requires the street address from where you are connecting to the internet because it may use this data to analyze broadband quality and availability on geographic basis.
Broadband Dead Zone Reporting Form
The Broadband Dead Zone Reporting Form provides your household with the opportunity to voluntarily participate in the FCC's effort to pinpoint areas in the United States where Americans are unserved or underserved by broadband access. Should you choose to complete this voluntary form, please note that the information you provide will not be used for purposes other than what is stated herein nor will it be disclosed.
For questions, or to submit your information over the telephone, call work +1-888-225-53221-888-CALL-FCC (TTY: 1-888-TELL FCC). Information may also be submitted by sending all required information by e-mail to email@example.com, by fax to +1-877-627-7460, or by postal mail to:
Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
ATTN: Broadband Unavailability Reporting
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554
FCC NOTICE REQUIRED BY THE PAPERWORK REDUCTION ACT OF 1995
The public reporting for this collection of information is estimated at .017 hours per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the required data, and completing and reviewing the collection of information. If you have any comments on this burden estimate, or how we can improve the collection and reduce the burden it causes you, please write to the Federal Communications Commission, AMD-PERM, Paperwork Reduction Project (3060-1129), Washington, DC 20554. We will also accept your comments regarding the Paperwork Reduction Act aspects of this collection via the Internet if you send an email to: PRA@fcc.gov. PLEASE DO NOT SEND COMPLETED DOCUMENTS TO THIS ADDRESS.
Remember - You are not required to respond to a collection of information sponsored by the Federal government, and the government may not conduct or sponsor this collection, unless it displays a currently valid OMB control number or if we fail to provide you with this notice. This collection has been assigned an OMB control number of 3060-1129.
THE FOREGOING NOTICE IS REQUIRED BY THE PAPERWORK REDUCTION ACT OF 1995, PUBLIC LAW 104-13, OCTOBER 1, 1995, 44 U.S.C. SECTION 3507.