CalSPEEDA cool new app is now available thanks to…………a regulatory agency?   Believe it or not,  the California PUC has released a very useful service called CalSPEED that let’s consumers test the speed of their mobile data connection.    Finally!   Consumers (and telecom regulators) will be able to document how fast (or slow) is their mobile reception.  Why is this important?   Three big reasons:

1.  Stuck in a 2-year contract with a mobile provider who offers molasses-like reception at Godiva-like prices?   Armed with documented evidence of sluggish reception, you can break that contract!

2.  Tired of carriers offering 4G lightning fast service that seems to only exist in the areas where you aren’t?   This tool can help you know exactly what kind of reception to expect in any location.

3.  Your tablet running sluggishly and you don’t know why?   It might be the device, but it might also be the mobile signal.  This app arms consumers and regulators have crucial information that, up until now, only the cellular companies themselves have had about the oomph in their mobile signal.

This CalSPEED app is now available as a free download for Android phones. It offers consumers a professional-level testing tool, composed of a suite of industry standard tests, to measure the quality and speed of their mobile data connections.  The results of these tests can tell a consumer not only data speed, but whether their service will support real-time applications, such as Voice over IP and streaming video.  The results are are also sent automatically to the CPUC for mapping and analysis, and for display on the CPUC’s interactive California Broadband Availability Map. This crowdsourced data lets regulators and consumers know what areas of the state are plagued by chronically bad mobile service.

The only bad news is that it is only available for California consumers right now (it is open-source and able to be adapted to other states)  and you need an Android phone  (sorry you Apple/Microsoft/Symbian/Blackberry folks) and access to Google’s Play Store to begin using this app.   Search for CalSPEED.   I tried it and really liked how it worked….except that the results confirmed my fears about the speed of my Virgin Mobile service.  Ugh!   But a very useful app unless you are one of the few who are enjoying blazing speed on your mobile device.