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FCC Wants Your Internet Speed Data For Broadband Maps

The FCC Speed Test app allows people to find out how fast their mobile and broadband internet connection is working, with the data collected going back to the agency as part of its Measuring Broadband America program, the agency said Monday.

Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said that building out a “comprehensive, user-friendly dataset on broadband availability” is a must for the agency if it wants to reach its intended goal of closing the gap “between digital haves and have nots.”

“Expanding the base of consumers who use the FCC Speed Test app will enable us to provide improved coverage information to the public and add to the measurement tools we’re developing to show where broadband is truly available throughout the United States,” she said in a statement.

The agency says that the app, which is available in both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, can provide helpful information to the agency and the people using it without compromising individual privacy. All information garnered from the application is anonymized, according to the agency.

Eventually, the FCC says it hopes it can use the data for more “accurate and granular broadband deployment.”

Millions of people in the United States still live without reliable internet service, a phenomenon known as the digital divide. At the end of 2019, some 14.5 million people didn’t have access to internet with speeds of at least 25/5 Mbps, the agency’s benchmark for what counts as broadband.

This is a problem that was thrown into sharp relief during the pandemic, when tens of millions of adults and children were forced to work and attend classes from home. And the agency’s broadband maps are infamously bad at identifying exactly which parts of a county or city are underserved.

Rosenworcel said in 2018 that the agency’s data showed that her neighborhood in Washington, D.C., lacked internet access when it obviously didn’t, and earlier this year U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., said there are counties in her district that agency maps say are 100% covered but clearly aren’t.

The acting chairwoman has launched a Broadband Data Task Force aimed at improving the quality and comprehensiveness of the agency’s broadband maps, using funds from the Broadband Data Act to get it done.

This article was obtained from Law360.

–By Nadia Dreid

–Editing by Breda Lund

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