20 May 2016

Netflix’ own speed test website is fascinating

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More of the map turning red.... More of the map turning red.... Netflix

One of the main reasons people want a fast internet connection is to be able to download and stream video content. Measuring their speed from Netflix’ own servers is, therefore, a bit of a draw.

The new site, the wonderfully simply named fast.com, is good for a number of reasons. One, it’s not littered with ads (admittedly, in many ways, it actually is an ad). And two it’s also very simple in its aims: to see how fast a download speed you can get from Netflix’ servers.

This means it’s not for everyone. Upload speed, ping, choice of servers…these are considered distractions and treated as so. You get a screen, you get a changing number, and that’s about it.

Hang on, that is a bit of a lie, as you also get a link to speedtest.net to compare against. Interestingly, Speedtest seems to give consistently higher figures. A quick test while writing this piece in this particular part of rural Britain (pop. 392) reveals a 54.17Mbps value via Speedtest, a 47Mbps one via Netflix, and it does seem to be consistently 10-15% higher.

Arguably, when you want the bandwidth most is when you’re streaming Jessica Jones in 4K, not when your boss is sending you a spreadsheet so you can work on it over the weekends, so it’s a useful metric to have.

Of course, it’s all part of Netflix’ rather important game plan to help boost broadband speeds around the world and make it easier to access its content (“If results from fast.com and other speed tests often show less speed than you have paid for, you can ask your ISP about the results,” the site says coquettishly). And with more and more countries now part of the Netflix service, there are also more that are being monitored by the Netflix ISP Speed Index.

April’s figures therefore include nine new countries, including Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. Two of the new additions immediately joined the ranks of the top 20 countries, with Singapore ranking #9 with an average monthly speed of 3.55Mbps and Hong Kong at #14 with 3.35Mbps.

If you want an interesting comparison, both countries ranked higher than the US, which came in at #16 with 3.28Mbps.

And if you want an even more interesting comparison, we decided to write this feature this morning when our Editor, Dave Shapton, revealed that in his particular rural location he was currently ‘enjoying’ a 0.5Mbps connection. India, one of the latest countries to join the Netflix index, has an average of 1.84Mbps…


Andy Stout

Andy is Deputy Editor of RedShark. He has spent over two decades writing about all aspects of the broadcast and film industries for a variety of high-profile industry publications on both sides of the Atlantic. During that time the industry has moved from 4:3 SD to 16:9 SD to HD and now on to 4K HDR. He's getting kind of curious to see where it goes next.

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