The Federal Communications Commission also announced its first mobile app available via Apple's iPhone and Google Android smartphones.
Consumers wondering just how fast their broadband can go will be able to measure their online speeds on a new Web site. The Federal Communications Commission last year released a report noting that advertised broadband speeds were rarely achieved by consumers.
The new feature -- available at broadband.gov -- was announced by the FCC Thursday along with another test that will enable consumers to report dead broadband zones.
"Transparency empowers consumers, promotes innovation and investment, and encourages competition," said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski in a statement. "The FCC's new digital tools will arm users with real-time information about their broadband connection and the agency with useful data about service across the country. By informing consumers about their broadband service quality, these tools help eliminate confusion and make the market work more effectively."
In unveiling the new tests, the FCC also established its first mobile app, making the tests available via the Apple iPhone and Google Android app stores.
Last year, the FCC said the difference between advertised speed rates and actual speeds received by consumers was often one-half. The new tests on the FCC site are designed to inform users of the actual rates they are obtaining.
The agency said it is utilizing two popular broadband testing tools in the beta version of its test apps. The FCC, which added that it doesn't endorse any specific testing app, said the tests are provided by the Ookla Inc. Speed Test and the Network Diagnostic Tool (NDT) operating on the Measurement Lab (M-Lab) platform.
Using the Broadband Dead Zone Report, consumers can submit street addresses of broadband "dead zones" where broadband is unavailable.
The FCC said it expects it will make additional broadband test apps available in the future.
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