CONNECTING THE UNCONNECTED How fast is your internet? County asks public to help address rural broadband access issue
Internet and cell service coverage in rural areas has been a frustration for years and recently the National Association of Counties launched a mobile app (found in the App Store/Google Play) geared toward getting accurate information regarding where coverage lacks.
“This app is available to everyone in Yuma County to use,” explains Susan Thorpe, Yuma County Administrator. “It’s free, simple to use, and will help paint an accurate picture of what broadband access is really like in Yuma County and ultimately what broadband access looks like in the Nation.”
The app, TestIT, was a partnership between NACo and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and the Rural Community Assistance Partnership and was developed “to identify areas with low connectivity to help ensure adequate funding for broadband infrastructure,” according to a NACo.
App users can test their broadband speed and compare their internet speeds to the national average and minimum standards established by the Federal Communications System. The app will measure and report the speed of whatever network the smartphone is connected to – fixed or cellular. The app will also track areas with no access. If the app can’t connect to the internet at the time of the test, it uploads the report the next time it’s connected.
The app leverages a broadband sampling tool designed by Measurement Labs (MLabs) to aggregate broadband speeds across the country from app users. With the press of a single button, users will be able to test their broadband speed from anywhere. Additionally, users will be able to compare their internet speeds to the national average and minimum standards established by the Federal Communications System.
No personal information will be collected through this mobile app.
Over time, the data collected by the app will create a map that accurately depicts where there is and is not service and how good the service is.
“This is an example of where the community can have a direct impact on future access to the internet,’ said Thorpe. “We ask that everyone download the app and use it not just at home or office, but anywhere you are in the county at any time during the day or night. The resulting data will help paint a clear picture and assist in making good decisions about broadband deployment.”
The timing of the launch of the app comes at a perfect time to complement National County Government Month to be held in April. This year’s theme is “Connecting the Unconnected,” and by encouraging resident’s to participate in getting a clear picture of broadband in the Nation, County officials can better lobby for equal access in rural America.