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Broadband testing courtesy of the FCC
March 12, 2010 10:47 PM   Subscribe

Broadband.gov -- the FCC wants you to have broadband, and to get what you're paying for. They've created a site which will benchmark your broadband for you.
posted by Chocolate Pickle (72 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
The test is fast, but it'd be more helpful if it explained what the numbers mean. Especially since this is aimed at people who aren't internet-savvy.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 10:53 PM on March 12, 2010


3.5 / 24 Mbit/s. I see Comcast has already added the test server to its QoS whitelist.
posted by ryanrs at 10:59 PM on March 12, 2010 [29 favorites]


Charter doesn't know about it yet; I'm only getting 14 mbs down. Paying for 25....
posted by mr_roboto at 11:00 PM on March 12, 2010


Yeah, I'm paying for 16M, hence the skepticism.
posted by ryanrs at 11:06 PM on March 12, 2010


SpeedTest is way prettier.
posted by Mach5 at 11:06 PM on March 12, 2010


Why do they need my address?
posted by doctor_negative at 11:07 PM on March 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


7M down and 2M up. So yeah, Comcast is definitely cheating.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:09 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


20711 kbit / sec = 2.52819824 MB / sec

Something smells off about this test.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:10 PM on March 12, 2010


I'm getting 0.8 down, 2.0 up, and I'm paying for 2 down and 1 up, normally. Feh.
posted by LMGM at 11:10 PM on March 12, 2010


Why do they need my address?

They don't. 123 Fake Street works fine.
posted by bh at 11:10 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why do they need my address?

They're trying to find broadband providers who are cheating.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:12 PM on March 12, 2010 [14 favorites]


I imagine they want your address so they can compile a database of speeds matched to locations. That way, they can plot the results on a map and look for areas where the speed is very high or where the speed is very low, and focus their efforts accordingly.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:13 PM on March 12, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why do they need my address?

The guys in the black helicopters want to bring over complimentary cake and soda to LAN parties.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:13 PM on March 12, 2010 [22 favorites]


Amazingly, I'm right on the money with my speeds, if not a little over on the upload right now. I've been more than pleased with UVerse since we switched to them.
posted by strixus at 11:14 PM on March 12, 2010


Right on the dot here. Also using uverse.
posted by zsazsa at 11:18 PM on March 12, 2010


I'd like to see this data mapped out, see which towns have the fastest internet connection and so on.
posted by delmoi at 11:38 PM on March 12, 2010


"The test is fast, but it'd be more helpful if it explained what the numbers mean. Especially since this is aimed at people who aren't internet-savvy."
posted by Solon and Thanks

"Why do they need my address?"
posted by doctor_negative

From the website:
This application will test the following broadband qualities:

* Download Speed: The speed at which data is sent from the testing server to your computer.
* Upload Speed: The speed at which data is sent from your computer to the testing server.
* Latency: The time it takes for data to be sent from your computer to the testing server and back (the "round trip time").
* Jitter: The variability in the delay between your computer and the testing server.

The FCC requires the street address from where you are connecting to the internet because it may use this data to analyze broadband quality and availability on a geographic basis. For more information see our About the FCC Consumer Broadband Test page.
posted by not_on_display at 11:39 PM on March 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


ha, just all youse wait till Duluth scores the Google Fiber
posted by edgeways at 11:49 PM on March 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


64Mb down, 27Mb up. How will I cope once I'm not living at school?
posted by floam at 12:22 AM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


3.5 / 24 Mbit/s. I see Comcast has already added the test server to its QoS whitelist.

Just so you know, that's pretty typical and is about the same thing you'd see to your own server or speedtest.net. But there is a bit of a trick there, of course, Powerboost. Assuming it's not a busy part of the day, they give you the first 20MB of a download at a speed much higher than you're provisioned. I wish some of these speed tests would bet se up to exhaust that first before they start measuring so you can see realistic numbers that correlate to what people actually see when they download large files.
posted by floam at 12:27 AM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


The guys in the black helicopters want to bring over complimentary cake and soda to LAN parties.

It's a kinder, gentler New World Order.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:34 AM on March 13, 2010


10104 / 874. Wish I knew what that meant...we're on DSL out in the sticks. Still ten times faster than my parents who live across the sound and pay for DSL that is so slow you cannot watch youtube videos.
posted by maxwelton at 12:37 AM on March 13, 2010


I bet Obama plays Protoss. He just seems like that kind of guy.
posted by uri at 1:37 AM on March 13, 2010 [8 favorites]


Powerboost...first 20MB

Sounds like the NSA deep packet inspection is finally paying off for the average user. Interactive web browsing *should* be a higher priority than torrents.

(I really shouldn't be bitching about my comcast service. It's always been fast and reliable. On the other hand, all the cool kids say they suck, so it must be true.)
posted by ryanrs at 1:43 AM on March 13, 2010


Coincidently, a notice arrived in the mail yesterday indicating that I'm a member of a class action suit against Comcast Xfinity with respect to throttling and torrent sites.
posted by fixedgear at 3:19 AM on March 13, 2010


Coincidently, a notice arrived in the mail yesterday indicating that I'm a member of a class action suit against Comcast Xfinity with respect to throttling and torrent sites.

IT'S A TRAP
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:24 AM on March 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Download speed 19,136 kbps
Upload speed 3805 kbps
Latency 33 ms
Jitter 2 ms

Are these figures par for the course? (Comcast in N. Florida)
posted by lungtaworld at 4:37 AM on March 13, 2010


15 mbps as advertised. Not surprised since I test it regularly with several different sites. Nice to know that while Cablevision is ripping me off regularly on my TV service, they haven't yet started in on my internet service.
posted by Splunge at 4:46 AM on March 13, 2010


I'd like to see this data mapped out, see which towns have the fastest internet connection and so on.

This would end up affecting property values. I can imagine the discussion with real estate agents now:
"Sure it's kind of a low-bandwidth neighborhood, but it's a very high-resolution town on Google maps!"
posted by FishBike at 4:50 AM on March 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm getting around 10m down/6m up on Comcast. That's about right, but I could only get the Ookla version of the test to work. I imagine that the Ookla servers are pretty well-known to Comcast, so I'm taking the results with a grain of salt. I'm not familiar with MLAB, but their server was apparently too busy to run a test for me.

In the last couple of months my service seems to have gotten flakier - e.g. on sites like Google Maps, not all of the images load, etc. Lots of times the browser shows "Loading 24 of 25 items" or similar in the status bar. The weird thing is that if I tunnel into my work network using a VPN, these problems seem to go away. This makes me suspect that Comcast is inspecting my traffic and doing something (either intentionally or not) to screw up the connection sometimes.
posted by sriracha at 5:12 AM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


772kpb down. 356kpb up. We live in the sticks and use a Verizon 3g modem plugged into a wireless router and attached to a truck antenna on the roof of the house.

We live in the sticks, and this is the best possible service I can get.
posted by mneekadon at 5:55 AM on March 13, 2010


Verizon Fios in MD
Advertised as "up to" 15/5
Actual 10.1/4.5
posted by Patapsco Mike at 5:57 AM on March 13, 2010


2872 kbps down, 317 kbps up, 43 ms latency, 12 ms jitter. I'm on the edge of DSL service here in Rochester, NY (Frontier telephone).
posted by tommasz at 6:13 AM on March 13, 2010


Cox in VA

25.8/5.7

Well over what we pay for, but Powerboost is surely throwing the test off.
posted by gimli at 6:21 AM on March 13, 2010


The Mlab servers gave me a better speed. 17040 on Ookla, 19070 with Mlab. Damn you Comcastic bastards! That's a lot of deviation!

Maybe we'd be best off just downloading large files from university servers (which have tons of bandwidth going out).
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:26 AM on March 13, 2010


lungtaworld, I'm in N. Florida, too (Gainesville). This is what I get on Cox Cable. However, I don't pay for the highest tier.

12,737 kb/s
849 kb/s

Which is roughly 12.5 mb/s down and less than 1mb/s up.
posted by oddman at 6:27 AM on March 13, 2010


Interesting, apparently the FCC is working with the USDA on this to improve broadband for the Rural Development initiative. Frankly, I'd expect this to be involved with the Department of Education, since the internet is good at giving people access to reference information and helping kids work on projects.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:29 AM on March 13, 2010


maxwelton: "2210104 / 874. Wish I knew what that meant...we're on DSL out in the sticks. Still ten times faster than my parents who live across the sound and pay for DSL that is so slow you cannot watch youtube videos."

Ah. That would be me. Not that I am your parent but I am paying $40.00 a month for "FastAccess DSL Xtreme" : 551 Kbps/ 112 Kbps. And, no, I don't try to watch many youtube videos.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:54 AM on March 13, 2010


I can't wait for the conservative backlash against this.
posted by wobh at 6:58 AM on March 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


24007 down, 4143 up. Comcast is definitely cheating.
posted by emelenjr at 7:02 AM on March 13, 2010


Just checked the AT&T web site and I am supposed to get "up to" 3.0 Mps. I guess you could call 551 Kps "up to" 3.0 Mps. But then you could call 0.0 Mps up to 3.0 Mps. For another $5.00 a month I could get up to 6 Mps which in real life might translate into 1 Mps. Bitter? Who me?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:05 AM on March 13, 2010


I bet Obama plays Protoss. He just seems like that kind of guy.

If that's what you think then you don't know squat about our president. He's a SubSpace guy through n through.
posted by NoMich at 7:13 AM on March 13, 2010


Brooklyn: 20mb down, 450k up. Time Warner's motto isn't "only connect" so much as "only consume".
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse at 7:40 AM on March 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Obama's one of those guys who builds a lot of static defense and dives down the technology tree, making no particular effort to attack the other players.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:50 AM on March 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


This is a part of the larger stimulus package focus on improving broadband access as an educational and economic development thing. The FCC's new Geospatial Information Officer is a former colleague of mine in the world of state-level GIS coordination and he spoke about this on a panel this past Monday. He announced that the widget went live on Thursday using his @FCCgio twitter account. Please don't use fake addresses; we need the FCC to have an accurate picture of where there is need to improve access so they don't waste our money.
posted by mmahaffie at 8:07 AM on March 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


So does anyone want to divulge what they are paying per month/ what they are getting/ where they live? (It's the new a/s/l) I would be curious. I live near Raleigh but not near enough apparently-- just another reason why living in a blue collar town sucks (along with only chain restaurants and no bookstore.)
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:17 AM on March 13, 2010


This application will test the following broadband qualities:

Yeah, I saw that, I meant it doesn't tell the user what the numbers mean. Like, "this is fast and good" or "you can look here to see what your internet provider promised you." If you're computer-savvy that's fine, but isn't this aimed at people who aren't?
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:22 AM on March 13, 2010


Being as there was a study a few years back which found that only about 10% of internet users know what a URL is or how to read one, I'd say this is squarely aimed at the net-savvy.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:46 AM on March 13, 2010


Grr, Java.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:51 AM on March 13, 2010


Grr, Java.

Yeah, and what's with this XHTML thing that's supposed to come out in a few years?
posted by Pope Guilty at 9:00 AM on March 13, 2010


Where's the class action suit to nail ATT, Comcast, etc.? They're out-and-out thieves. I have no other carrier available, so ATT is my only choice. I just wanted DSL; they offered me the "higher speed" (3000 down) for $30, ,but they also required me to buy (bundle) into a land line for $7.50 per month if I wanted to keep the price at $30, instead of $40. I told them I didn't want the land line because all I need is my cell phone; they said take the bundle or pay more. So here I am paying $90 per year ($7.50 x 12 months) for something I don't need. Then, they see to it that the language in their contract protects them from fully delivering what I get.

The game that telecommunications providers play actually hurts national productivity and our future. What's the social cost of having largely slower Internet access than most Europeans, Japanese, Koreans, etc. etc.? Why do we let telecom executives get away with thievery (oh, yeah, they make large campaign contributions)? They should all be in jail for grand theft.
posted by Vibrissae at 9:02 AM on March 13, 2010


Comcast is cheating, obviously. But here's the thing -- I don't want better internet, I'm pretty happy with Comcast. I would like choice.

When the choice is Comcast or DSL or nothing, that's not options. It sucks.
posted by graventy at 9:03 AM on March 13, 2010


lungtaworld, I'm in N. Florida, too (Gainesville). This is what I get on Cox Cable. However, I don't pay for the highest tier.

12,737 kb/s
849 kb/s

Which is roughly 12.5 mb/s down and less than 1mb/s up.


I'm on the same tier, but I keep getting something like 1Mbps down and (WTF?) 5 Mbps up. I wonder if it's something to do with my wireless. Netflix generally seems to work fine, but it's hardwired. I think I need to reboot my router.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:08 AM on March 13, 2010


My connection when checked on all sorts of test, but mostly in big usenet downloads is just slightly better than what i am paying for. I pay for 7.5/.75 and get 7.9/.9 all hours all week long. the funny bit is when i first got it it was more like 3.5/.1 and i googled for the best CS number to call, called it, got a local Comcast network technician and he was all "oh, yeah, um, let me just press this button, there you go" and my speed instantly jumped to what i was paying for, and has stayed there.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 9:52 AM on March 13, 2010


3,460 down
252 up

100% facepalm.
posted by fuq at 9:56 AM on March 13, 2010


I got three down and ~350k up here, which is what I am paying for (until they put fiber in my neighborhood sometime later this year, anyway).

Speedtests aren't the end-all, though. I think of them like those blood-pressure cuffs at CVS and the like. A bad result doesn't necessarily mean your connection actually sucks or that your ISP is ripping you off; network conditions and equipment issues can also negatively effect your results. It's best to run speedtests multiple times over a couple of days to get a clearer picture of what your speeds are like.

That being said I like that the government is doing this -- the state of high-speed internet availability in this country is pitiful. Like the similarly-painful state of high-speed rail here, it's got a lot to do with the size of the country and the wildly-varying population densities, but I really look forward to the day when even people in campers or located in very rural areas have more options than dial-up, satellite, or air cards.
posted by m0nm0n at 10:28 AM on March 13, 2010


I'm rarely completely satisfied with things, but I am completely satisfied with Time Warner/Roadrunner in Austin. I get high scores and I don't think it's cheating. My torrent download speeds are also high (bear in mind that you have to divide these test values by 8 to get megabytes per second, which is what download-related software typically reports).
posted by Xezlec at 11:00 AM on March 13, 2010


How is Comcast cheating? Not providing the speeds they advertise?

Download speed 20,862 kbps
Upload speed 4076 kbps
Latency 24 ms
Jitter 4 ms
Comcast in Alameda, CA

SpeedTest is way prettier.

Both SpeedTest and Bandwidth.gov use Ookla.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:48 AM on March 13, 2010


If that's what you think then you don't know squat about our president. He's a SubSpace guy through n through.

Gonna guess he's a levi driver.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:27 PM on March 13, 2010


I'm on AT&T in Miami and getting 5.7/0.9 of a promised 6.0/1.5, but I'm not bitching about that. I'm much more annoyed that I had to get a 200-channel cable package with it or the price would nearly double.

It's been so long since I watched TV regularly I forget I have the option, not that I take advantage of it.
posted by mkhall at 1:39 PM on March 13, 2010


How is Comcast cheating? Not providing the speeds they advertise?

Providing the speed they advertise for speed tests, while not providing the speed they advertise for everything else = definition of cheating.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:51 PM on March 13, 2010


Is there a test out there that fixes the cheating problem, say by pinging an assortment of popular and not popular servers and averaging the rates?
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 2:54 PM on March 13, 2010


Ran the test three times, got wildly different up and down speeds every time.

Which pretty much jibes with my theory that there's a big rotary knob at Charter headquarters which controls my connection speed, and that somebody's turning it back and forth all day long just to fuck with me.
posted by box at 5:27 PM on March 13, 2010


I get the feeling that running that test may have just enlisted me in botnet.gov hmm...
posted by a3matrix at 6:25 PM on March 13, 2010


Holy shit, SubSpace. Thanks for reminding me about the amazing amount of time I sunk into that in high school.
posted by breath at 7:25 PM on March 13, 2010


Download 1300 kbps (should be 1500)
Upload 189 kbps (should be 512)
Latency 254 ms
Jitter 38 ms

Maybe my being in Australia affects the speeds?

The Australian government last year announced a project to deliver fibre to the door of 90% of premises, which is a real departure from previous promises that have always been about % of the country covered. Given that something like 95% of the population lives in something like 5% of the land area, this is a big shift. I hope they can deliver.
posted by dg at 7:58 PM on March 13, 2010


So are the Speedtest and Broadband results consistent for you, to determine if your local ISP is cheating?

Vancouver, BC 20kdown, 1Kup, while streaming some 1000k HD hockey via a p2p protocol - similar numbers from Speedtest and Broadband.
posted by porpoise at 8:45 PM on March 13, 2010


Has anyone here ever priced out a fast commercial fiber connection?

I live in downtown San Francisco. There are at least half a dozen fat metro ethernet rings running right past my building. Say I wanted a 100Mbit connection + 5TB/mo transit. Assume I have to dig up about 100 feet of a major downtown street. What sort of installation costs am I looking at? How much a month? What about for 1Gb and 50 TB/month?

Every time we talk about really fast residential fiber, people cite problems related to population density, backhaul capacity, etc. But my sense is that fast connections still aren't economical even when the backbone comes right to your front door. Is this true?
posted by ryanrs at 1:24 AM on March 14, 2010


Yeah, it's got nothing to do with the backbone, it has to terminate for the link to be of any use. That's why the Australian government plan is for fibre "door to door". If you have to tap into a fibre link that runs past your door, it's unlikely to be financially viable in most cases.
posted by dg at 1:49 AM on March 14, 2010


These aren't long haul links. They're neighborhood fiber runs that provide connectivity to nearby buildings. The financial viability is contingent on getting a substantial number of other tenants to join in.

(note: this is a thought experiment, not something I actually plan to do.)
posted by ryanrs at 8:12 AM on March 14, 2010


Hm, I switched to Comcast's "economy" service a couple weeks ago that advertises 1 Mbps down and 384 kbps up. The test showed:

23547 kbps down
3291 kbps up
21 ms latency

So either they haven't switched me over or the difference between the regular and the economy package is that you pay less for the latter.
posted by electroboy at 3:28 PM on March 14, 2010


Is there a test out there that fixes the cheating problem, say by pinging an assortment of popular and not popular servers and averaging the rates?

Well, it doesn't quite do that, but we do have a page on YouTube that shows your connection speed history (based on visitor cookie so it's by browser/computer). Of course there are other factors than raw connection speed, but it should give you an idea of your "practical" connection speed, since this is based on real plays and not a speed test sort of thing.

http://www.youtube.com/my_speed

(of course, if you don't watch any YouTube videos you wont have any history, although we do still show an average rate for your ISP).
posted by wildcrdj at 1:14 PM on March 15, 2010


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