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FCC to test mobile broadband performance for consumers

The government agency says that the evaluations will be useful to consumers and will "spur competition among service providers."

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a new measurement program focused on mobile broadband.

According to the government agency (PDF), its first step will be to hold an open meeting "with interested parties" on September 21 to discuss the ways in which it will measure mobile broadband performance and compare that to claims made by providers, such as Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and others.

"The statistically sound methodology of the program allows comparisons and analyses that are valuable to consumers and spur competition among service providers," the agency said yesterday in a statement.

The FCC has been analyzing home broadband service for some time. In July, the agency released its annual "state of the union" on ISPs and broadband, and found that most Internet providers are doing a good job of offering advertised speeds. In some cases, such as Comcast and Verizon Fiber, speeds are actually faster than advertised.

Broadband availability and improved performance has become a cornerstone of the agency's focus. The FCC, through its National Broadband Plan, is aiming to improve overall broadband access across the U.S. However, it reported last month that 19 million Americans are still left without broadband, and the rollout is not occurring in a "reasonable and timely fashion." The majority of Americans without broadband access live in rural areas.

Those interested in attending the September 21 meeting will need to head to Washington D.C. and the FCC's sixth floor South Conference Room. The meeting will start at 10:30 a.m. PT and end at 12:30 a.m. PT. The FCC didn't say when its testing will begin.