NATION—In the continuing quest to bring high-speed internet to remote areas of the country, the National Association of Counties (NACo) announced a new mobile app which aims to measure and map broadband speeds across the United States.
Partnering with the Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC) and the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP), NACo developed the app “...to identify areas with low connectivity to help ensure adequate funding for broadband infrastructure,” states a press release.
The app, “TestIT,” is available for both Apple iOS and Android devices and can be downloaded through each respective app store.
It “uses an open-source sampling tool developed by Measurement lab (MLab) to aggregate broadband speeds from mobile device users across the country,” explains a NACo press release.
NACo notes that lack of broadband internet access inhibits economic expansion and functions as an issue of socioeconomic equality.
With the app downloaded, users can test internet speeds anywhere. The data is collected and stored so NACo, RCAP and LISC can view connectivity across the country and locate places most in need of bolstered speeds.
Speaking to the importance such speed tests, Wayne County Commissioner Chairman Brian Smith stated they “help make the case for how bad it is in rural PA...A lot of people need internet in this area.”
Smith explained a mixture of Wayne County's topographical limitations and a scarcity of available customers in may parts of the county are some of the main hurdles to bringing internet improvements into the area.
Data compiled from speed tests is a useful tool to inform policy decisions.
“It's absolutely necessary to get legislators involved,” said Smith, noting that public and private discourse can help overcome the hurdles in brining high-speed internet to rural areas.
Achieving high-speed internet remains a primary goal of the Wayne County Commissioners.
Similar to the TestIT app and also developed by MLab, a web-based internet speed test was launched specifically for Pennsylvania last year.
Accessible online from “BroadbandTest.us,” the data compiled shows that download speeds in Wayne County average 12.2 Megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds average 1.3 Mbps.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines “high-speed internet” as download speeds of 25Mbps or greater and upload speeds of 3-5Mbps.
BroadbandTest.us is still active and recording speeds for 2019.
Internet users can logon to “BroadbandTest.us” and measure their speeds from work, home or elsewhere.
Notably, part of the BroadbandTest.us survey inquires after home internet accessibility, allowing residents without internet at home to state as much.
—Information from a release was used in this story.