Federal Communications Commission

Mobile Broadband Performance and Transparency

October 12th, 2010 by Jordan Usdan - Acting Director, Public-Private Initiatives

 On Friday the FCC released a Request for Information (RFI) aimed at potential providers of mobile broadband performance measurement and mapping services.  The submission period is open through November 5, 2010.

This RFI release is a major step forward in implementing the National Broadband Plan’s recommendation to make available better data on the performance of mobile broadband networks.  We believe this effort will help inform consumers about mobile network performance, encourage competition based upon service quality, and provide useful data for policymaking and broadband mapping.  You can read the RFI here.
Similar to the FCC’s fixed broadband measurement effort (see, the FCC is seeking a solution to measure the performance of mobile network providers.  Typical sources of mobile broadband performance include drive testing, fixed network probes, application level data, network provider data, and data collected from end-user devices.   Measurements and attendant data will likely focus on key performance metrics such as data throughput rates, reliability, latency, and signal quality. 
The FCC will continue to engage industry and other parties in discussions to determine the best methods for gathering accurate and useable data on mobile broadband performance, including the publication of performance data from other sources.  Previously, the FCC released a Public Notice covering this topic, available here.
The FCC intends to leverage any data collected to develop publicly available tools for consumers, network designers, and policymakers.  Any data collected from the public will be subject to robust privacy protections.
We continue to seek input from all interested parties on consumer transparency and related mapping initiatives.  Transparency and consumer information are critical inputs to encouraging competition and advancing innovation in our broadband ecosystem.

4 Responses to “Mobile Broadband Performance and Transparency”

  1. Lefty says:

    Hi Jordan,

    It is all nice and well that the FCC wants to monitor performance, however, I am not quite sure how or why this is going to "encourage competition based upon service quality". Mobile providers in certain parts of the world interpret competition as a term that means that they can lock their subscribers into 12-24 month contracts and can get away with the bare minimum in terms of service quality.

    My company markets <a href="">mobile VAS solutions</a> in emerging markets and there, due to the nature of the markets, people are not and cannot be locked into long contracts, so mobile operators - including mobile broadband services, actually need to compete on quality of service.

    Don't get me wrong, I am not saying the FCC initiative is wrong or useless, all I am saying is that it is not likely to enough, all by itself.

  2. Guest says:

    This sort of thing is great. For the fact were I live the only decent and reliable broadband that is available is 3G through Virgin Mobile Broadband2go and since they release there unlimited plan the preformance has dropped in the Sprint 3G tower because people in range want to get off of Dial-up.

    When the students in schools get out up here the tower becomes very slow because all the 3G devices and that is just with sprint. On Holidays you can't barely use it because it is so swamped.

  3. Almost Volunteer says:

    Just received my new "white box" (although it's actually black) for the TestMyISP effort. There are no credible instructions, there is no tech support, and when what directions exist are followed my network ceases to function. Big surprise - I'm senging this box of garbage back.

  4. Volunteer Quits says:

    OK, so I have transitioned from Almost Volunteer to I QUIT. I hold a BS in Electrical Engineering (electronic communications) and an MS in Industrial Engineering (human factors). I've spent the afternoon with zero comprehensible "Step 1 - Step 2 - etc." instructions available and zero success in getting this garbage to actually work. During this process I have been told of how many hundreds of these have been set up, and how thoroughly the instructions have been reviewed. AT&T engineers (presumably the same ones that have no clue why my service has reliably gone out when it's hot, raining or "something else" over the last 4 years) have also been quoted for their valuable contributions o this cause. I believe I have earned the right to call this program a big waste of time and effort, with a nasty huge question mark over its validity.

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