Broadband Testing in Universal Service Supported Areas

The FCC’s Universal Service High-Cost program is designed to ensure that consumers in rural areas, other high-cost building areas, and territories (also known as “insular” areas) have access to modern broadband networks at rates that are comparable to those in urban areas. This includes voice services and fixed and mobile networks for data. 

The program, also known as the Connect America Fund, fulfills this goal by allowing eligible broadband providers who serve these areas to recover some of their costs from the fund.  Collectively, the FCC distributes approximately $5 billion per year in Universal Service support for high cost service areas.

Broadband service providers that receive federal “High Cost” funds are required to test a random sample of customer locations to ensure that quality standards for speed and latency, or response time, are being met.  

The FCC encourages consumers to participate in this important testing program.


Why is my broadband provider asking me to install network test equipment or upgrade my modem?

Your provider may be receiving federal funds to support their network in your area. The FCC requires providers that receive federal Universal Service High-Cost support to test the speed and latency of their participating networks.  In some instances, this may require an upgraded modem.

What is the purpose of the testing?

The testing ensures that consumers are receiving services that meet the speed and latency standards required by the federal program. Such testing is similar to routine network testing already performed by providers to make sure networks are functioning properly.

How do I know if my broadband provider is receiving High Cost support?

Areas that are eligible for universal service support are indicated on the Connect America Fund Broadband Map

Do customers have to participate in testing?

Customers are under no obligation to have additional or new equipment placed in their homes or small businesses.

Can broadband providers charge customers for equipment required for testing?
No. Providers cannot charge customers for equipment needed solely for federally-required speed and latency testing, including the costs of a new modem if the modem is being replaced for testing purposes.

Will the federally-required testing allow my provider to see what I search for or watch on the Internet?
No. The equipment required to measure speed and latency does not enable providers to see or track a customer’s online activity. 

Will the testing impact my service quality or speed?

No. The testing equipment or upgraded modem should have no effect on service speeds or latency. In some cases, an upgraded modem may increase broadband performance.

Can I see the test results if I am part of the testing?

Broadband providers are free to provide customers with their testing results. In addition, the FCC will make aggregated test data, broken down by provider, available on the FCC’s Universal Service Fund Administrator website.  

Can I test my broadband speed and latency on my own?

There are a variety of independent online tools or mobile apps that you can use to test your internet speed and latency. Learn more about the FCC’s Measuring Broadband America program.