Most accurate broadband speed test/BT telling porkies?

ChrisHGTV

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Hello all and Happy Easter! First Easter ever with no choccy eggs as we’ve been good citizens and avoided buying all but essentials! (All were sold out anyway where we are)

Now, we have BT broadband fibre 100 and are guaranteed a speed of 100Mb (else we get a £20 payment). We’re having a few drop outs so I was just playing around and ran a few different speed checkers that all came out around 80Mb. Now that’s just using my iPad and WiFi so I wouldn’t expect 100Mb. However using the speed checker on the BT app it gives 102Mb using the same iPad etc. When we had the broadband installed the open reach chap ran a test and showed me 160Mb but the most ive seen is 125 when plugged into the hub. So is there a possible technical reason or is there some fudge factor BT are applying to show these higher speeds?
 

grober

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May depend on which server you use to run the test with? Some speed checkers give you a choice. Perhaps BT has a special engineering one for running tests less affected by traffic?
 

Bobby Dazzler

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Speedtest by Ookla is close to being a universal test, and so allows reasonably fair assessment of speed, and as good as it gets for comparison purposes, however as suggested the server you connect to could affect speed and therefore it’s not 100% consistent.

I think it’s fair to say everyone’s speed is less than advertised and slows down, regardless of provider or geographic location. Periodically restarting your router and Wi-fi (if separate) will temporarily improve speed but it will settle down again.
 

rockits

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As above check some different speed checkers. Wireless is often much slower than wired.

You will never ever get 100% as there is overhead and losses routing through devices. A kin to a car on a rolling road with flywheel and wheel horse power I guess. Not quite 15% but 0-10% sometimes.

There are so many variables often it is unreal and it is getting much harder to troubleshoot issues. I've been in the game over 25 years and just troubleshooting a wireless issue on one AP out of 4 in my place. It has taken some hours so far and will take many more.

Only true way you can get an accurate speed test is to use something like iPerf between two points with least variables and known good high speed and device at other end. That is a tool we use a fair bit on customer sites to troubleshoot and proof speed between points.

Older devices are generally slower and wired and wireless network adapters generally get faster the newer they are.

You can download some large files here:
Download Test Files | thinkbroadband

If you do the same file and same site to reduce.variables to each device. The benchmark will always be a fairly new/decent laptop or desktop with a Gigabit NIC wired directly into the main router. Everything else will be slower.

If your getting 90% most of the time that is pretty good and I'd be happy with that.

What BT product do you have?

I spent 4 years getting Opernreach to get FTTP installed here and for my neighbours as we are a little off the main route. Went from 3Mbps/0.3Mbps to 330Mbps/50mbps so pretty happy now.

Nobody really needs more than 100Mbps these days really so anything more is a little superfluous unless there is a specific reason for heavier use.

My office is at home and we run some backup servers to here as a little mini data centre for customers backups so needed a little more.
 

st13phil

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Periodically restarting your router and Wi-fi (if separate) will temporarily improve speed but it will settle down again.
Periodically - say, once in a month or two - is OK but one thing to avoid is restarting the router too regularly. If you do, the exchange equipment sees that your connection is often dropping and will then automatically decrease the line speed in an effort to achieve a stable connection.
 

artyman

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I suspect that internet traffic is considerably higher with so many people at home, not just working from home but watching more stuff, so that is bound to impinge on performance.
 

AltonAnt

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A recent iPad or iPhone (Android too probably) will have no issue using 100Mbit. I've done a speed test at a BT free access point at close to 300mbit.
Unfortunately, if you want to get the best from BT internet then the BT hub is not going to cut it.
You really need a router that at the very least supports some form of QoS as you are unlikely to have anything that can use that type of speed and it is better just to manage the bandwidth better so more people can use it concurrently.

It's not for everyone I appreciate but I still use a separate vdsl modem, router and wifi APs.

You can set up a checker at thinkbroadband so you can see what is happening on your line e.g.

 

markjay

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For a 'proper' test, you need to carry it out from a wired device (not WiFi), connected directly to the router, while all other PCs and network devices (both wired and wireless) are physically disconnected from the router.

The other issue is that most home SOHO Internet connections will have a certain congestion ratio, in other words the circuit (and the bandwidth) is actually shared by a number of subscribers (in the olden days, home ADSL congestion ratios were as high as 50:1). When this happens, your top bandwidth can become what is known as 'burst mode', i.e. you will only ever get it if no one else is using the bandwidth. For this reason a perfect speed test can never be carried out on a shared bandwidth system (e.g. FTTC), but your best bet is to run the test in the early hours of the morning if you live in a residential area, or over a weekend if in an industrial area, etc. But of course if you have dedicated bandwidth (which is not the same as guaranteed bandwidth) then this will not be an issue.

As Bobby Dazzler said, Ookla (which automatically selects the server for you) is considered a common benchmark. But, the BT Wholesale speed test is more reliable for your purpose (checking if BT provided you with the bandwidth you were promised) because it tests the bandwidth internally on the BT network - keeping in mind that you can't really blame BT for any congestion or latency outside of their own network.

And last, at 100Mbps you'll be fine, but going higher than that you could hit other bottleneck, e.g. hardware limitations of the router (and VDSL modem if FTTC), and the NIC on your laptop or desktop.

As a side note, we regularly deploy high-end firewalls that have various features such as Deep Packet Inspection (DPI), VPN encryption, WAN acceleration etc, and while getting a dedicated Gigabit Internet connection is very common and inexpensive these days (for businesses), a firewall that can sustain 1GbE of throughput with all these features enabled will cost a five-figure sum.
 
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ChrisHGTV

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Thanks for all the replies folks! I’m much clearer now how it works. To be honest the speed we’re getting is fine for what we use it for, and for work my main limitation seems to be the VPN. When connected to the VPN I go from say 80Mb on WiFi down to about 16mb. So I tend to only connect when I need to.
 

renault12ts

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I consistently get 106.


Edit: That was a typo, I meant to say 1.6.
 

markjay

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Thanks for all the replies folks! I’m much clearer now how it works. To be honest the speed we’re getting is fine for what we use it for, and for work my main limitation seems to be the VPN. When connected to the VPN I go from say 80Mb on WiFi down to about 16mb. So I tend to only connect when I need to.
VPN speed will always be much reduced compared to a straightforward connection. The issue lies with both the VPN Client software on your PC and the VPN appliance hardware on the other side. The encryption/decryption process has overhead which require hardware resources (and a clever OS...). There are ways to optimise speed over VPN but ultimately it will still be slower.
 

Bobby Dazzler

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It’s difficult for a typical household to genuinely make use of the full download potential on super fast broadband, especially with speeds above 100 Mbps. It’s very easy to hit limitations on upload speeds though, especially for those with cloud-connected security cameras.
 

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I have had similar problems with BT. When I complained about not having lightning-fast speed, they directed me to Ookla, which I tried, along with a few other speed check sites. Some difference between the sites but I think that can depend on location of server.

I have just tested on Ookla with the test being from circa 100 miles away.

20mb Download and almost 17.8mb Upload.

I chose another server, still 30 miles away and the results improved.

32mb Download and 18.6mb Upload.

Given that the world and his dog are bored at home and on the internet, I'd say the whole thing is holding up pretty well.

Imagine life at the moment without being online...
 

rockits

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Thanks for all the replies folks! I’m much clearer now how it works. To be honest the speed we’re getting is fine for what we use it for, and for work my main limitation seems to be the VPN. When connected to the VPN I go from say 80Mb on WiFi down to about 16mb. So I tend to only connect when I need to.
If you are using a VPN and the default gateway is the remote gateway your Internet speed is limited but the speed of the Internet connection at the remote end.

You can set the VPN to use your local gateway for Internet traffic at full speed using your local Internet connection. The VPN is only used when required to talk to office/work devices.

Or are you using a VPN more for security rather than work VPN?

For example as a default a Windows PPTP VPN is created with tick box ticked for the remote default gateway. This will mean your Internet connection is routed via the work network. Years ago when these were often used this tickbox was always unticked to allow Internet traffic to stay local at.full local speed.
 

BTB 500

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FWIW we haven't really noticed a slowdown during the COVID crisis. We generally get about 75 Mbps on Speedtest.net ("real world", with all the normal stuff in the house connected to the router), which is still the case. The broadband we have is sold as 66 Mbps average.
 

Swotty

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I'm happy to get 8Mb here in the French countryside. Neighbours further up the lane can only get 2Mb.

Fibre optic has been laid along the main road into town ... it's 1.5 km away and we're told we will be connected in .... 2 years! :(

I suppose we'll have to upgrade from Windows 7 then? :D
 

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