Netflix's Fast.com web app is one of the simplest ways to test your mobile and broadband speeds - whether you use Netflix or not. From today, you can also use the app to measure your connection's latency (lag/ping) and upload speed. This will help to give you a more comprehensive view of your internet connection speed...and whether ISP congestion is to blame.
For those unfamiliar with the service, Fast.com is a free (and ad-free) web application that allows you to instantly check the speeds you're getting from your internet service provider. It achieves this by automatically performing a series of downloads from Netflix servers when you connect to the site.
The tool was designed to be as simplistic and clean looking as possible, with just a Mbps number and a link to compare your speed to other users. However, it seems that some users wanted more information about their internet connection - a request that has now been granted.
From today, Fast.com includes the ability to measure connection latency and upload speed. Latency - the time it takes for data to travel from a user’s device to the server and back - will be measured on both unloaded and loaded connections.
(Unloaded latency measures the round-trip time of a request when there is no other traffic present on a user’s network, while loaded latency measures the round-trip time when data-heavy applications are being used on the network.)
As Netflix explains:
Let's say you’re playing a game online on your computer. If you’re the only user on the network, then the time between your gaming action (like moving a mouse or clicking it) and the response from the gaming server will approximately match the unloaded latency measurement. However, if someone else is streaming a movie, backing up photos or performing other data-intensive tasks on the same network at the same time, your gaming response time would correspond to the loaded latency measurement.
Ideally, those two values for unloaded and loaded latency should be close to each other. If not, that might explain your poor experience with latency sensitive applications (like gaming, video calls or web surfing) under heavy network usage.
These new features can help you determine whether your connectivity issues are due to congestion with your ISP or other users on your network. You can test the app for yourself here.