The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) wants to know how fast your internet is so it can collect data about broadband availability across the country.
The agency pushed its “Speed Test App,” which allows users to measure their internet speed at home, on Monday. The FCC says it will use those results to collect “more accurate and granular broadband deployment data.”
The data sent to the FCC will be confidential, the agency said.
“To close the gap between digital haves and have nots, we are working to build a comprehensive, user-friendly dataset on broadband availability,” acting FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “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.”
The app runs periodic speed tests in the background of your device, and users can set a monthly data cap to make sure the app doesn’t make go over the allowance set by a provider. Once several tests have been run, you can compare your tests to ones run in the past.
The country’s digital divide—the gap between those who have access to high-speed and affordable broadband and those who do not—was highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic, with people relying on the internet for school and work.
Hundreds of people sent complaints to the FCC detailing their dire financial situations during the pandemic, such as choosing whether to use their last paycheck to pay for internet service so they could apply for unemployment online.
The FCC’s Speed Test App is the latest move from the agency to collect information from the public about the country’s internet speeds.
Last month, the FCC urged the public to tell it about their internet speeds in an online form. The goal of collecting the data is to get more accurate information for mapping broadband availability in the U.S.