aNewDomain — This is a service I used long before Android days, even before the widely used smartphone days. Speedtest, started by Ookla in 2006, was a website you could visit on your PC to check the ping and speed of your Internet connection. You can still visit the speedtest.net site today.
Speedtest for Mobile
Smartphones, and the apps they are littered with, has evolved into a hugely popular mobile platform. Ookla was quick to provide an app for Android and iOS that mirrored this website service, and it has continued to evolve and improve the app ever since.
Like the website above, the app is called Speedtest and it’s from the developers at Ookla. I don’t use the app on a daily basis, but it’s always there when I need to see how fast my Internet is. According to the site, they see millions of tests across thousands of servers every day. This provides a huge amount of data about the speeds we all get on the Internet, which is handy for keeping ISPs honest.
The data section on the wiki page for Speedtest shows that the U.S. is not even in the top 10 countries with fastest data speeds for upload or download. That’s pretty sad. Think how much higher our Internet speeds could be — Singapore, currently No. 1, has an average of 120 mbit per second. What gives, ISPs?
When you open Speedtest on your Android device, it will search for a server based on location. The closer the server, the less distance packets have to travel and the better the ping time will be, and thus your overall speeds. Once the app has selected a server — you can also opt to select a specific server yourself in settings — you’re ready to check your speed.
Click the “Start Test” button and the app will test the ping, then the download speed and finally the upload speed. After finishing these tests, you have the option to share your results or restart the test. Personally, I like to run the test a few times so I can figure out a real average speed. The test works via Wi-Fi or your phone’s mobile network.
Want to see your device get the speed you are paying for? Stand close to one of the cell towers your carrier is using, with full signal on your phone, and then run speedtest.net. Assuming many other people aren’t trying to do the same thing, you should get a fairly accurate measure of the actual speeds the tower is capable of. Luckily for me, we have one decent cable provider, a few DSL providers and now both Verizon and AT&T for mobile. Choice is here, sort of, but there isn’t any fiber … yet.
I’ve found the results page in the app, which keeps your last handful of tests, incredibly useful when figuring out your actual speeds and then reporting them to your ISP. If you have data on real-time speeds and they are far below what you’re paying for you can often get an ISP to lower their price or provide upgrade services.
The only real issue with the app is the large, in-your-face advertisements. These pop up after every test runs, and need to be clicked out of to use the app again. You can upgrade the app, paying $.99, which is not a terrible way to go, if you find yourself using speedtest often.
With that said, the app is streamlined, functions well and provides accurate readings of your current connection speeds. Can’t ask for much more.
Check out Ookla’s Speedtest for Android, available for free on Google Play, and discover how fast your connection really is.
All screenshots: Mat Lee
Featured image: 200m Epic by Oscar Rethwill via Flickr