What is a ‘Broadband Speed Test’?

Pete CodellaBroadband

The goal of broadband speed test is to provide consumers real-time information about the quality of their broadband connections and to create awareness about the importance of broadband quality in accessing content and services over the internet.

How does it work?
This application will transfer a small amount of generic data back and forth between your computer and a testing server. The applications attempt to find a server that is relatively close to your location, in order to provide accurate results.

Broadband speed tests may not always be an accurate representation of connection quality provided by your broadband provider.  The results can be impacted by a range of factors — for instance, the test can vary based on the geographical distance of the user from the testing server, end-user hardware, network congestion, and time of day. However, this application can provide a helpful indicator in comparing consumers’ relative broadband connection quality and in understanding the performance metrics of broadband connections.  To read more about speed tests, read the “Understanding Broadband Speed Measurements” study from MIT.

Primer on speed test lingo:

  • 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.

Speed test results will play an important future role in the Utah Broadband Project.  There are so many innovative things you can do with reliable crowd-sourced data.  We recently heard Michael Byrne, who is working on the National Broadband Map for the FCC, give these remarks about some of the exciting things we can do with the information that speed tests will give us.

Now you’re ready to try out the Utah Broadband Project’s Speed Test!