Since the loss of Net Neutrality it has become more important than ever to monitor the behavior of our Internet Service Providers (ISP). There are already reported instances of devious mechanisms being employed by these services in order to increase their ever-increasing bottom line. The ridiculous data cap system immediately comes to mind. It all boils down to greed, as I see it. They certainly don’t care about their customers, that’s for sure.
One of the things you can do is to make sure your transfer speeds are at least close to what the advertised speeds indicate, and that you are not paying for something you are not getting. It used to be, and maybe still applies, that if your download speeds are at 85% or greater of the advertised speeds, then you should be reasonably satisfied with your service. If it is regularly less than this, you should probably start making some phone calls.
Strictly speaking, this Quick Tips article is not a specific Windows-related post, but I thought it was important enough to share with you in this series.
Netflix provides a very easy to use and understand speed testing site. Here are the results from a test I did today at around 10:30 am:
My ISP, CenturyLink, is providing me with an advertised download speed of 10 Megabits Per Second (Mbps). This is paltry by today’s standards, but it is too costly for me to upgrade to, say, a 25 Mbps package. And frankly, I don’t need it considering the type of internet work I do. It’s not like I’m downloading huge amounts of data or anything.
In any case, the reported 9.3 Mbps is well above the aforementioned 85% rule. My upload speed is actually a bit faster than the .768 Mbps I should be expecting from my ISP.
Internet latency is the time it takes for a request to go from a source to a destination on the internet. Latency is most often measured in milliseconds (ms). Netflix displays two latency measurements:
- Unloaded – This shows the data transfer latency when your network has no other traffic
- Loaded – This shows latency when you or another computer is using the same network while you are conducting this test
I don’t understand why the client is listed as Eugene, when the IP address points to a location in La Crosse, WI, but no matter. La Crosse is not that far from where I live. Unfortunately, unlike some other speed test sites, I saw no way to change this location on the Netflix site.
If you would like to try this site out for yourself, head over to fast.com to see your personalized results.
To get the most accurate results, you should run this test several time over the course of a day. Choose times when internet congestion is typically high. Try it again when congestion problems are minimal. And maybe a few other times scattered during the day, too. Keep a short record of your results and average them. You will then have a solid idea of what your throughput is over time. Also, if your times are consistently slow, it might be time to talk to your ISP and begin asking some hard questions.
Tip: When talking to your ISP representative, remember that you will catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar. I have gotten some really great price reductions by simply treating them as my best pal. You know, yucking it up with them like long-lost buddies. They have a tremendous amount of latitude when it comes to pricing and deals, so be nice to them. They are powerful entities and you should treat them as such. Anger will get you absolutely nowhere.
I once got a 66% reduction on a month’s worth of service simply because the guy I was talking to and I “hit it off”. If you have been a long-time customer, find out about so-called “loyalty discounts”. By asking for these I have reduced my monthly bill by as much as $15 for six months at a time. When the six month period has expired, I call them again to renew the deal, or get an even better deal if I can. This can really add up. Just sayin’…
There are many sites on the internet that offer this type of service. Tim Fisher over at Lifewire has published a comprehensive list of ISP-provided speed test sites at this Lifewire page.
As always, if you have any helpful suggestions, comments or questions, please share them with us,