Local Data Gathering: Speed Tests
Another great source of information to the data gathering done in the community surveys, even if just supplemental, is to gather information from internet speed tests. Speed test data will provide information about the actual speed of connections throughout the community. There are however many caveats to this data that are important to understand:
The test results are achieved during a specific and relatively short period of time.
The test will reflect the speed and latency of the entire link as a combined set of results. If there is any misconfigured, or inefficiently configured equipment between the test computer or device, it’s likely to impact the results of the test. Improper configuration of home wi-fi networks is relatively common, and absolutely impacts speeds reflected in tests.
Speed tests are impacted by the distance from the test location to the server, so using a speed test that’s relatively close helps provide more accurate speed results.
A speed test will only be able to show speeds at or near the subscribed speed, as providers update their networks it’s becoming more and more common to see subscribed speeds below the maximum speeds.
Maximum speed is often the speed reported and required for data submission, speed test results will often be below the reported speed.
Speed test data is most effective when there are a large number of tests from various times of the day, and from various locations.
Speed Test Resources
speedcheck.org: an internet speed test with the most extensive guide on how to troubleshoot speed and connection issues
speedtest.net: likely the most used speed test tool, and used or co-branded by many broadband providers.
fast.com: provided by Netflix
speedof.me: HTML5 speed test that doesn’t use Flash or Java.
nperf.com: additional test tool, that has options for how the results are displayed and the option to select the test location.