No Sign of the FCC’s Mobile Broadband Test App

On August 25, 2010 (according to the FCC’s website) the FCC released iPhone and Android apps which allowed consumers to test their mobile broadband speeds and, ostensibly, allow the FTC to compare mobile broadband speeds against the speeds advertised by mobile carriers. The app was received with mixed reviews, Gizmodo pointed out that “plenty of unofficial rankings of 3G and 4G speeds get published every year, and they seem to have little, if any, impact.”

In August 2011, July 2012, and February 2013, the FCC released their “Measuring Broadband America” reports, which measured advertised versus actual download speeds from various wireless carriers.  The below graph is from the February 2013 report.

chart1
From February, 2013

Three observations:

1 – The apps don’t exist as of today (on either Android or iTunes).  When we contacted 1-800-FED-INFO we were told that they didn’t know why the apps weren’t there any longer.  “Maybe they’re fixing them and they’ll be back up later”

2 – The sidebar lists the apps as having a cumulative 3,688 reviews (between iTunes and Google Play), yet the apps no longer exist in either store which means that the API from those stores should return no information when queried.  Does this mean that these numbers and stars are hard-coded into the website?

Screenshot:

Screenshot taken at 10:30am on August 12, 2013
Screenshot taken at 10:30am on August 12, 2013

3 – The findings show that even as recently as February 2013 only 5 of the 15 measured companies were at 100% or more of their advertised speeds.  What is the point of the program if after 3 years of measurements and data collection wireless providers are not held accountable to their advertisements?

We are genuinely curious to learn more about these applications.  It’s not the worst idea to monitor download speeds in order to hold wireless carriers accountable for their advertised speeds, but we’re wondering why the government is going to a great deal of effort to duplicate readily available information and why the applications are no longer available.  If you or somoene you know has this app still installed in their phone please let us know at @ConsumersFirst

About Consumers’ Research: Consumers’ Research was incorporated in New York City in 1929 as a result of the success of F.J. Schlink’s and Stuart Chase’s book Your Money’s Worth.  It is the oldest consumer organization in the United States.  Learn more at ConsumersResearch.org or follow Consumers’ Research on Twitter or Facebook.

+ posts

Joseph Colangelo is Executive Director of Consumers' Research, the nation's oldest consumer-focused organization. Joseph grew up in Northern New Jersey and attended U.C. Berkeley on a Naval ROTC scholarship where he graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts with a concentration in Political Science.

Share

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on email
Email

Subscribe to get the latest consumer news

More consumer News