FCC Speed Test review: Measure your iPhone and iPad network performance, help keep your carrier in check

The United States Federal Communications Commission has re-released their FCC Speed Test app for iPhone and iPad and iPad. It lets you directly measure upload, download, latency, and packet-loss over both cellular and Wi-Fi. You can also choose to anonymously submit information to the FCC about your results through the Measuring Broadband America program which aims to create transparency about actual network performance.

FCC Speed Test looks at a couple things when measuring network performance — download, upload, latency, and packet loss. Each time you run a test it'll give you some general information about your cellular network. When testing WiFi networks I didn't get the same amount of information so I'm not sure if there was an incompatibility with my provider (Comcast) or if FCC Speed Test simply doesn't monitor ISPs the same way.

You can then break out data from FCC Speed Test in different time lengths such as a week, month, or year. The expanding graphs give you an overview of what kind of data performance you've been getting. You can choose to share this data with the FCC or you can keep it just for your own reference. You can set limits in settings as well for how much data you want the app to be able to transmit so you ensure you aren't hitting any data caps you may have.

I tested FCC Speed Test against the popular Speedtest.net app by Ookla. Overall, they seemed pretty close on both WiFi and over the cellular network. You can see the results in the screenshots below. FCC Speed Test measures a few more statistics than Speedtest.net does but lacks the server options. In my experience server options can make a huge difference in results. Also, FCC Speed Test is U.S. only while Speedtest.net is available internationally.

I'd recommend the FCC Speed Test app if you're in the U.S. and want more detailed information on the quality of your cellular network connection, especially if you want to contribute to the FCC monitoring program. If you give it a try, let me know — how fast and how well does your connection measure up with FCC Speed Test?

Allyson Kazmucha

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.

  • FCC speedtest, hmmm no thanks i would rather not put any (more) software on my phone from a government that's already fully submerged in spying on everything that moves or breathes and uses the tax collection wing to target and destroy political adversaries.
  • "spying on everything that moves or breathes"--I'd have to agree. "uses the tax collection wing to target and destroy political adversaries"--a myth and exaggeration from the conservative wingnuts.
  • I'm not following the "myth" point? The IRS was targetting conservative groups. That's kind of a big issue when the President can use certain government agencies to target opponents. If unchecked, it could undermine the entire idea of democracy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2013_IRS_scandal
  • The issue isn't that the IRS doesn't target those the president et al. want targeted--they've been doing that for decades. But it does the work of both major parties, not just against conservatives. And this latest episode was exaggerated compared to their previous targeting, i,e., low level employees making sure non-profits were following the rules. My bad for not clarifying, sorry.
  • I don't see what "problem" this software fixes. Ooklas' Speedtest works just fine & gives the results & information that we need... and is prettier & more polished.
  • Is this really an official FCC app? The developer is listed as "SamKnows"...
  • Or perhaps it's "SamKnows" as in "Uncle Sam Knows Everything About You"???
  • I'm happy with speedtest, do not need to use another one! :/
  • I use Speedtest, but there's no way I'll pay a penny for it.
    Not even to shut up all those ads.
  • Intentionally let the US government run software on my iPhone and let them have access to my data connection? I.THINK.NOT! I'm not a tin foil hat wearing person, but I really don't want to give the government more access to my iPhone than they already have. You would have to wonder what "SamKnows" after installing this.
  • I was tempted to download & try this out but as has been stated already Speedtest seems to be fine for my needs. And the idea that the FCC now wants involvement from consumers to keep internet carriers in check? Right. Isn't that their job to begin with? And they have woefully failed in very miserable fashion at it. The US has the most expensive & spotty internet coverage of any developed country thanks to the hands off FCC who has let the carriers implement this patchwork system.
  • "I'd recommend the FCC Speed Test app if you're in the U.S. and want more detailed information on the quality of your cellular network connection..." The FCC app does give far more detailed info, especially since you can look back over intervals from 1 week to 1 year. I only hope AT&T will improve service in my area. I'm always hitting their Mark the Spot app to tell them about lack of data coverage.
  • People who think the government needs to install spyware on your phone to monitor your communications need to fit their tinfoil hats a little more securely. The whole point of the NSA leaks you think you're referring to is that government intelligence agencies are getting access to electronic communications by going directly to the providers, or tapping into their networks without permission. The whole point is that those agencies DON'T need to put spyware on your phone. As it happens, the developer of this app isn't even part of the U.S. government at all, as explained on their website: http://www.samknows.com/broadband/about/ People who don't want the FCC to have reliable information about broadband performance may overlap with people who refused to fill out census forms for fear that black helicopters would come to collect them for the death panels. Do you really want to be one of those people?
  • If i use this will Sprint in any way suck less? Like i want something that pings the FCC and lets them know my service is crap and they tell Sprint, "hey fix this or we'll investigate you for failing to provide the services people are paying for." Does it in any way do that? Or is just for my own benefit (which is minimal)?
  • Never heard if this app. Thanks for the update and the information of this app. Sent from the iMore App
  • I like how the app screenshots in the store showed the carrier as Vodaphone Sent from the iMore App