Back in May 2016, Netflix launched its own Internet speed test — fast.com. The service was convenient because it had an easy-to-remember URL, didn’t rely on Flash, and immediately launched the test from an automatically-determined server as soon as you loaded the page.
The fast.com Netflix speed test was limited, however, as it only tested the user’s download speed, ignoring other factors such as upload speed and connection latency. While this makes sense — from a Netflix user’s perspective the most important factor by far is download speed — Netflix this week introduced some updates to the service that put it on par with other Internet speed test services such as Speedtest.net.
The New Netflix Speed Test
Starting now, users who navigate to fast.com with a modern Web browser will still see the traditional download speed test:
Once that test is complete, however, users can click the Show more info button. Doing so will begin a second speed test that reports both latency and upload speed:
Clicking the Settings icon reveals additional options for the number of parallel connections with which to test and the minimum and maximum duration of the test, which can be good for identifying issues with inconsistent bandwidth or for situations in which an ISP offers a “boost” mode that initially provides higher speeds but then quickly settles into a lower overall speed as a transfer continues.
For users who always want to see latency and upload speeds during their Netflix speed test, there’s an option to Always show all metrics and to save the configuration options for that device via a cookie.
The interesting part of this new functionality is that, as mentioned previously, the current Netflix streaming experience doesn’t rely much on a user’s upload speed or latency. These are factors that are far more important during real-time Internet activities, such as streaming a live event, video chatting, or online gaming. The introduction of these tests to Netflix’s own in-house speed test service may therefore indicate that the company is preparing to expand its service offering to include some form of real-time content.
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