Millions of people across the United States continue to be hampered by slow internet speeds. That doesn’t just mean they’re unable to stream Netflix without delayed buffering or uploading photos to Facebook quickly; it means not having access to online physicians.

The problem has only become more noticeable in the past year as people were forced to work from home and children were forced to attend school virtually over computer connections. Combine that with more gadgets connected to a home’s WiFi and people streaming movies and TV shows over Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and other services. Oh, and gamers who spend lots of time playing with others over an internet connection.

The FCC says high-speed broadband is no longer something that’s nice to have; it’s a necessity. Without high-speed internet, many rural Americans cannot access online healthcare and have no hospitals nearby. Veterans struggle to receive financial assistance as do farmers and those on Medicaid.

The FCC faces a huge challenge in identifying areas with low-speed or zero internet connections. This is where you can help by using an app from the FCC.

The FCC is asking Americans to download its smartphone app “Speed Test” to test and report their internet speeds to the Commission. Apps for iPhones, iPads, and Android devices can be found in Apple and Google’s app stores.

Once the app is downloaded, you’ll be asked to give it permission to see your location. This is necessary for the FCC to build a broadband map in order to see where slow speeds are prominent.

The speed test will send and receive data using the network your phone is connected to so before running it, make sure you’re on your primary WiFi connection and stand close to the router. I’d also suggest disconnecting from WiFi and running the test again which will test the speeds of your cellular provider’s network. If there are areas you know have slow connectivity, run the test there as well. I know several spots in town where I cannot access the internet and where Spotify cannot connect to my provider’s cell towers. I try to run the speed test frequently in those areas and report it to the FCC.

The FCC has also added a page to its website where people can report problems or concerns with their connections.

The Commission says more accurate maps will enable broadband funding programs to target support for services to the areas most in need.

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