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FCC expands mobile-broadband speed test to include iOS users

Like its Android counterpart, the iOS app is designed to collect data on the performance of mobile-broadband services nationwide.

The FCC's Speed Test app for iOS. FCC

With the launch of a new app Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission expanded the scope of its research on US mobile-broadband speeds to include iOS users.

The FCC Speed Test for iOS app, released to Apple's App Store today, is designed to collect information about the performance of participating smartphone users' mobile-broadband services nationwide. The agency's hope is that the data collected will help it generate an accurate comparison of wireless carriers' mobile broadband speeds.

"The iOS release is the latest step in the Commission's efforts to crowdsource mobile-broadband performance data for the mobile Measuring Broadband America program," the FCC said in a statement. "Testing data will provide valuable information to consumers, industry, and the Commission on the deployment of networks across the United States."

The app will run on any iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch running iOS 7 or later operating systems but is optimized for the iPhone 5, according to its iTunes description.

The iOS app joins an Android app launched in November as part of the research effort. Like its Android counterpart, the iOS app doesn't collect personal or uniquely identifiable information from users. However, unlike the Android app, the iOS version will not run periodically in the background; participants must manually run tests of their cellular and Wi-Fi network performance, the FCC said.

The apps measure upload and download speeds, latency, and packet loss, as well as signal strength and the manufacturer and model of the tested device. The FCC is using the data to create an interactive map to help consumers determine whether they're getting the mobile data speeds they expect.