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Speed Test Apps

Screen Shots from Marc’s iOS Phone

TechRepublic’s article ‘The Best Free Speed Test Apps to Check Your Internet and Wi-Fi Network Performance” prompted me to review these apps on my iPhone 12.

In the remote work era, reliable Wi-Fi is a must.

https://www.techrepublic.com/google-amp/article/best-free-internet-speed-test-apps/

Fast and stable internet connections on solid Wi-Fi networks are crucial for me in this age of remote work and media streaming.

Unacceptable Wi-Fi performance for me causes dropped video calls and glitchy cloud based interactions.

Although there are a number of apps on the market to me assess the wireless networks at my home or favorite coffee shop; this TechRadar article prompted my to download and check these ‘five of the best free solutions to test network performance, locate nearby connectivity and more.’

Speedtest by Ookla

iOS Ookla Speedtest Results – Screen Shot of acceptable internet speed for a video conference with multiple individuals.

Apple’s App Store lists this app as 4.1 stars of 5 with 10.4K reviews. It also places this app as #56 in the utilities category.

Ookla has been my favorite free app because it is simple, quick, and has a large button to start the testing process. At the bottom of the Ookla iOS speedtest, it provides the options of:

  • Speed
  • Video
  • VPN – a premium service

Ookla boasts having some of the large user-test counts. At the WNC Broadband Project, this data is important in mapping speeds throughout our geographic area.

FAST Speed Test by Netflix

A speed test app by a leading video streaming service. This sounds like the app for you if you are experiencing video streaming issues.

Apple’s App Store lists this app as 3.9 stars of 5 with only 144 reviews.

FAST Speed Test App – iOS. Screen shot of acceptable broadband speeds for video streaming at HD or 4K.

This free speed test app provides unique latency information ‘Loaded.’

Unloaded latency measures the round-trip time of a request when there is no other traffic present on a user’s network, while loaded latency measures the round-trip time when data-heavy applications are being used on the network according to the app documentation.

Unloaded latency measures the round-trip time of a request when there is no other traffic present on a user’s network, while loaded latency measures the round-trip time when data-heavy applications are being used on the network.

Internet Speed Test – Meteor

Meteor Speed Test iOS App

Meteor is one of my newer free speed test apps. It comes with an app store rating of 4.7 with 2K reviews in the iTunes store.

The very nice feature with this app is that it clearly provides acceptable degrees of internet speeds for the other apps. For me, Ping was ‘OK.’ Ping is also called latency. Ping is the reaction time of your connection or how quickly your device gets a response after you’ve sent out a request.

A fast ping means a more responsive connection, especially in applications where timing is everything (like video games). Ping is measured in milliseconds (ms). I agree that I am ‘OK’ with the responsiveness, but wish for ‘Awesome’ ping for my broadband connection.

Internet Speed Test Speedcheck WiFi Finder

Although the iTunes store indicates the display of this app is designed for an iPad, I now have this app on my iPhone. It is listed with an impressive 4.9 of 5 star rating with 75.9K reviews.

Speedcheck not only provides speed check data, but a history, and a Wi-Fi finder.

Speedcheck iOS App – screen shot.

Speed Test Master App

This app has a 4.6 rating with 12.7K reviews on the iTunes store. The free version has very invasive ads that make it hard to get to the speed test data, history, and tools.

Speed Test Master app, iOS screen shot

Your Favorite Free App?

What is your favorite free internet speed test app? Why?

Share your broadband experience with the NC Department of Information Technology – Broadband Infrastructure Office.

Take the speed test and provide your survey feedback at: https://www.ncbroadband.gov/north-carolina-broadband-survey


TechRepublic Staff. 2021. “The 5 Best Free Speed Test Apps to Check Your Internet and Wi-Fi Network Performance.” Techrepublic.com. TechRepublic. October 29, 2021. https://www.techrepublic.com/google-amp/article/best-free-internet-speed-test-apps/.

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Broadband access Community Development University for Broadband

Community Broadband University

Corning’s Fiber to the Premises

We look for a vision of improved broadband connectivity in Western North Carolina. In Eastern North Carolina, there resides a major optical fiber manufacturer with more than 50 years of innovation – Corning, Incorporated.

Invention of Low-Loss Optical Fiber and Life-Changing Technologies

Corning Celebrates 50 Years of Optical Fiber Innovation

Life-Changing Innovation

With low-loss optical fiber, it has allowed us to share data, videos, and conversations with family, friends, and coworkers.

What is the story of this 1970 invention leading towards a story of innovation?

Evolution of Optical Fiber

Optical fiber provides virtually unlimited possibilities with its immense bandwidth potential and adaptability.

What are the capabilities of optical fiver and Corning’s role in the history and evolution? What is the evolution of fiber?

Broadband University – Learn at Home

There is an urgent need to deliver broadband access to underserved communities. Corning that created the ‘Community Broadband University’ to share information about successful fiber to the home deployments:

  • Insights
  • Trends
  • Strategies
Welcome to Community Broadband University

Broadband University Topics

Corning provides a collection of video-based learning modules to implement successful community broadband.

  • Business Planning
  • Network Basics
  • Project Planning
  • Funding
  • Architectures
  • Network Design
  • Materials
  • Construction
  • Operating a Network
  • Marketing
  • Case Studies

Learn more at Community Broadband Networks | Corning. Corning.com. Published 2021. Accessed October 27, 2021. https://www.corning.com/fiber-to-the-premise/worldwide/en/home/applications/community-broadband.html

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Fiber Last Mile Networks

Time for Fiber Optics

Copper networks were for telephone service, cable networks were for television services. Both technologies have matured and aged. Now is the time to implement fiber optics to homes and businesses to network data that could be voice, text, video and more.

Fiber 101

By sending a beam of light through fiber optic glass cables, service providers are able to transfer information. Information is a diversity of voice, text, video, and other data files through laser pulses of light.

The Last Mile

Once the light pulses reach its destination, an optical network terminal or ONT converts the light pulses into electrical Ethernet.

This is how light becomes something you can use to actually connect your devices to the Internet. This conversion happens at the end of the last mile, which isn’t actually a mile at all, but a term for the last stretch of fiber that connects the consumer to the backbone of the Internet.

Pros and Cons of the Network Types

In the article linked below, OTELCO further describes the positives and negatives of fiber to the premise (FTTP) when compared to other types of internet service networks.

“A Complete Guide to Fiber Optic Internet.” 2021. OTELCO. May 17, 2021. https://www.otelco.com/resources/a-guide-to-fiber-optic-internet/.

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Broadband in WNC Infrastructure Internet Policy

Internet Infrastructure

It Connects Us All

The internet is described as a ‘network of networks.’

Telecommunication providers have networks of fiber, cable, copper, satellite, and cellular connections that deliver varying degrees of internet speeds and latencies. Broadband is considered ‘high-speed’ internet.

The traffic on the internet includes the content we consume and contribute including:

  • YouTube
  • Netflix
  • Facebook
  • and other text, audio, video

The heart of the Internet is between the telecommunication components and the content that we send to each other across these networks.

Internet infrastructure is the physical hardware, transmission media, and software used to interconnect computers and users on the Internet.

Internet infrastructure is responsible for hosting, storing, processing, and serving the information of websites, applications, and content.

The Datacenter

The datacenter represents the fundamental building block of the Internet’s infrastructure.

A datacenter is a large building filled with ’servers’, which are just basically computers optimized to run Internet processes.

i2Coalition

Internet infrastructure companies do things like operating:

  • ‘Web hosting’ or ‘domain name’ services
  • Storage and backups
  • Virtual private network (VPN)
  • Acceleration services

In North Carolina, we have Apple, Google, Facebook, and other small to large datacenters.

What Internet infrastructure is not: telecommunications providers or content providers.

Internet infrastructure providers do not create, communicate, access, modify or destroy information. They are not the websites of the Internet, they are the developers of underlying services.

i2coalition

For the Western North Carolina internet infrastructure to improve, it will include the installation of fiber-connected networks, data centers, and power-backup systems in our communities.

How and when will your community get internet improvements?

National and state broadband infrastructure details are coming in the next several weeks. Stay tuned.


i2Coalition. What is the Internet’s infrastructure? [Video]. i2Coalition. Published February 6, 2019. Accessed October 21, 2021. https://www.i2coalition.com/what-is-the-internets-infrastructure-video/

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5g Android Broadband in WNC Cellular Maps Wireless

5G in WNC

What is 5G?

5G is the 5th generation mobile network. It is a new global wireless standard after 1G, 2G, 3G, and 4G (LTE) networks.

5G enables a new kind of network that is designed to connect virtually everyone and everything together including machines, objects, and devices.

What is 5G meant to deliver?

  • Higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds
  • Ultra low latency
  • More reliability
  • Massive network capacity
  • Increased availability
  • A more uniform user experience to more users

Higher performance and improved efficiency empower new user experiences and connects new industries.

What is 5G and how does it actually work?

Ookla Speedtest – WNC Cellular Coverage Map of ‘Likely’ Speeds

Asheville NC yellow pindrop
Yellow Pin Drop Represents Asheville, NC

With my Android Ookla Speedtest app and the data-points that Ookla has collected; the screenshots below show the Western North Carolina cellular coverage by each carrier with the yellow pin drop representing downtown Asheville.

Ookla Speedtest Coverage Maps for Android

Speedtest for Android includes unique coverage maps that track LTE performance by carrier so you will always know where you are likely to experience strong connectivity. Easily switch between carriers and regions to compare coverage in the locations you frequent.

https://www.speedtest.net/apps/android
Boost
West Central Wireless
Virgin Mobile
FirstNet
Carolina West Wireless
USCellular
Sprint (part of T-Mobile)
AT&T

Verizon Wireless
T-Mobile

What cellular coverage do you get in your community?

Are you getting 3G, 4G(LTE), or 5G coverage?


Everything You Need to Know About 5G | 5G FAQ | Qualcomm. Qualcomm. Published July 25, 2017. Accessed October 14, 2021. https://www.qualcomm.com/5g/what-is-5g

Tabb,Jeffery M. What Is 5G? Here Is a Short Video Primer. Scientific American. Published 2021. Accessed October 14, 2021. https://www.scientificamerican.com/video/what-is-5g-here-is-short-video-primer/


Categories
Brookings Digital Citizenship Digital Equity Digital Inequality Economic Development Infrastructure Prosperity Social Outcomes

Digital Prosperity

Can broadband can deliver health and equity to all communities?

Every industry relies on computing, cloud storage, or other digital equipment to sell goods and services. Employers increasingly demand more advanced digital skills from the labor force. Meanwhile, people’s individual lives often orbit around the internet, whether at home, at work, or on the move.

Brookings – Digital prosperity: How broadband can deliver health and equity to all communities

Broadband is so influential on our society that we can now call ‘dependable high-speed internet’ as an essential infrastructure service.

Broadband’s applications are so far-reaching that these physical networks directly and indirectly affect a wide range of conditions that impact health and life outcomes, known as social determinants of health (SDOH) or conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play that affect a wide range of health and quality-of life-risks and outcomes (CDC-Center for Disease Control and Prevention).

If broadband is essential infrastructure, then regulation and public policy should support every American community having equitable access to broadband and the skills necessary to use it.

Why Broadband Matters

For most Americans, broadband is commonplace in professional, personal, and social interactions. Yet even with this ubiquity, the extent of broadband’s health and equity benefits aren’t fully understood. In part, this is because broadband’s physical networks do not directly impact health and equity outcomes in the way other infrastructure systems do. Instead, broadband serves as a platform on which a range of different applications operate and impact individuals. Just having an internet connection does not boost someone’s health outcomes—but using the internet to access remote health care providers, services, and information can serve as a conduit to improved physical and mental health.

Because broadband’s applications are so wide ranging, it can deliver services that touch every social determinant of health. From economic stability, to education, to social supports, to civic agency, broadband and the digital services it enables are today intrinsically tied to collective health and equity outcomes.

Economic Outcomes

In terms of economic outcomes, broadband delivers benefits to both individuals and communities. Broadband makes:

  • Job seekerseasier to search for jobs, apply for them, and to keep looking for longer.
    • In turn, businesses reap benefits from e-recruiting, which makes it less expensive to access a larger pool of candidates.
  • Digitally fluent workforce – brings productivity gains to firms, who can then reward employees with higher wages.
  • Macro economic lens – based on higher levels of broadband adoption lead to economic growth, higher incomes, and lower unemployment.

Social Outcomes

Broadband also plays an important role in improving social outcomes:

  • Broadband democratizes access – to education, offering a wide supply of free and open education platforms, courses, and resources.
  • Help people foster social supports – stay in contact with a broader social network. For traditionally marginalized groups who are prone to social isolation, access to the internet allows them to connect to others anonymously.
  • Telehealth – the use of telecommunications to deliver health services and education—can directly improve health outcomes, especially for those who otherwise lack access to medical providers.

Broadband is the Country’s Most Inequitable Infrastructure

The 2020 state of American broadband access, adoption, and use is one of disparate outcomes. According to the 2018 American Community Survey (ACS),

  • 85% of households have subscriptions to some form of “broadband” internet service.
    • ~10% have cellular-only access to the internet
  • 99.6% of households have complete plumbing.
  • 100% of households with access to electricity.

Additionally, the less population-dense an area is; the greater the digital divide due to the costs of connecting and providing service.

How do we become more digitally-prosperous?

Broadband’s ability to reach and positively impact households depends on three critical inputs:

  1. Physical availability
  2. Affordability of services and equipment
  3. Digital skill levels

Western North Carolina Broadband Initiative

The WNC Broadband Project is here to help:

  • Build & grow coalitions
    • School systems
    • Municipalities of Cities and Counties
    • Neighborhoods
    • Religious Institutions
  • Target opportunities
    • Online banking
    • Telehealth education
    • Communities
  • Make resources bi-lingual
  • Gather and effectively present data
    • Data visualization
    • Benchmarks and milestones

If you our your group and help bind opportunities across social, economic, and physical health dimensions, please contact a member of the WNC Broadband Project Team.

Building more equitable broadband infrastructure will improve our outlook on the Western North Carolina social determinants of health.


Adie Tomer, Lara Fishbane, Angela Siefer, and Bill Callahan. 2020. “Digital Prosperity: How Broadband Can Deliver Health and Equity to All Communities.” Brookings. Brookings. February 26, 2020.

https://www.brookings.edu/research/digital-prosperity-how-broadband-can-deliver-health-and-equity-to-all-communities/.

Categories
Communication Digital Communication Digital Inclusion Digital Information Guide for Digital Inclusion ICT - Information & Communication Technology Information

Information Communication Technology

The internet has changed how we work, communicate, learn, and live.

Digital Information

Additionally, we live in a digitally inequitable world.

Digital Communication

How can you or your group steward digital inclusion and information-communication technology (ICT) in Western North Carolina while higher speed internet connections become available?

Navigate Digital Inclusion

The WNC Broadband Project Leadership Team is eager to hear from WNC individuals, groups, and communities. Contact us today.

Technology Navigation

Let’s make WNC more digitally inclusive!

#digitalequity #DIW2021 #digitalequityNOW

Categories
Basics Digital Inclusion Education Internet skills

Digital Inclusivity in Using the Internet

Once users have the ability to use the internet with available WiFi, computer devices, and knowledge of how to use the internet; why is the internet so important for individuals and communities?  

Benefits of Using the Internet

The internet is a necessary communication tool for entities collaborate.  Email, text, video chat are the foundations of internet use.  Businesses, our government, communities, and families benefit from using the internet with:

  • Connectivity
  • Information, knowledge sharing, and learning
  • Address, mapping, phone, web and contact information
  • Sharing web resources like cloud photography, text files, web links
  • Selling and making money
  • Banking, bills, and shopping
  • Donations and funding
  • Entertainment
  • Work from home, collaboration, and access to a global workforce

Understanding how to use a web browser is important because we need to effectively search for information.  Google Chrome web browser, as an a example facilitates an ‘omnibox’ to:

  • Enter a web address or URL 
  • Search for keywords or phrases
  • Bookmark webpages for ease of future reference

Digital Literacy/Skills

What programs and organizations currently provide the following in your community/region?

Digital skills or digital literacy

  • Workshops
  • Courses
  • One-on-one sessions

Digital Literacy Location Stewards

  • Library hotspots and digital navigators
  • Workforce development training –
    • Career centers 
    • Job search training including resume writing on a text editor
    • Readiness Resource Labs
  • STEM/STEAM training, coding schools, IT certifications, or training
    • Microsoft
    • Google
    • CompTIA
  • Technical or computer certifications
    • LinkedIn Learning
    • Udemy 
    • GCF Global 
  • ACT Work Keys, testing, reading maintenance of 
    • Workplace documents
    • Graphics

Please contact a member of the WNC Broadband Project Team to learn more about ‘how to engage your group or community to learn more about the internet.’


“What Are the Advantages of the Internet – Javatpoint.” 2020. Www.javatpoint.com. 2020. https://www.javatpoint.com/what-are-the-advantages-of-the-internet.

#digitalequity #DIW2021 #digitalequityNOW

Categories
Digital Inclusion Education Internet skills

User Ability to Use the Internet

Continuing this week’s series on digital inclusion of individuals, groups, and access; here is a  look at the needed skills and ability to “effectively use the internet” or digital literacy.

At the foundation, a users digital ability is the skill or knowledge needed to communicate with email and search the web.

For many, lifelong learning may have exposed digital literacy from a start in pre-school, elementary, middle, or high school.  But what happens with those that did not have the privilege to learn about computers and the internet? Where does a digitally-illiterate individual go for help?

Because community colleges, libraries, career centers, and community centers are locations that provide internet access; digital navigators maybe also available to assist with using the internet.

Necessary skills to for internet use should include a basic understanding of:

  • About the internet and how to connect to it with a smartphone or mobile device
  • Email communication, suggested Gmail
  • Web browsing, suggested to use the Google Chrome web browser

Engage your community or group to become more digitally inclusive.

For assistance, contact a member of the WNC Broadband Team today.

We want to help your community or group navigate digital inclusion.

#digitalequity #DIW2021 #digitalequityNOW

Categories
Access Points Broadband access Digital Inclusion Free WiFi Guide for Digital Inclusion Lot Map for Wi-Fi Low-income Access

Digital Inclusion – Access

Digital inclusion of individuals and groups includes an awareness of internet access points and this week is recognized as digital inclusion week.

Because a portion of the individuals in our communities can not afford home broadband or computer devices, a community digital equity assessment is advisable to determine access points for desktop or laptop computers, tablets/smartphones.

Likely, current community access points include locations like:

  • Inside libraries or library parking lots
  • Parks
  • School parking lots
  • Restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores
  • Churches or places of worship
  • Career centers

These locations may also have digital navigators that can assist with internet access.  As an example, Buncombe Public Libraries provide assistance in connecting to their building Wi-Fi access point and provide printer services.

Making internet access part of your community’s digital inclusion plans includes creating goals for groups to address each aspect of the digital divide: broadband access, broadband affordability, computer devices, and digital literacy.  

Thanks to the Land-of-Sky Regional Council of Governments, Wi-Fi Lot Maps are available.

The WNC Broadband Project Team is here to help you.  Contact the leadership team today or mention your digital inclusion thoughts to a member of our advisory board.

The WiFi symbol, represented above is a stair-step icon, signifying available wireless internet connections.

More About Broadband Access 

https://wncbroadband.org/blog/blog/category/broadband-access/

Reference

NC Broadband Infrastructure Office Digital Inclusion Planning Guide

https://www.ncbroadband.gov/assistance/digital-inclusion-template-guide

#digitalequity #DIW2021 #digitalequityNOW