In 2016, Netflix unveiled fast.com – a site that enabled users to check on the speed of their internet connection. Unlike the more popular Speedtest.net, Netflix took the less is more route and only offered site speed. It seems fast.com is now taking the more is more approach and adding new functionality to their site.
It’s not all about upload/download speeds…
fast.com will now show users the latency of their connection. “Ok so what’s latency?” you’re probably asking. Latency is the delay before a transfer of data begins following an instruction for its transfer.
This is what Netflix had to say about the addition of new features:
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We’ve heard from some FAST.com users that they crave more information about their internet connection. That’s why today, we’re adding the ability to measure connection latency and upload speed. Upload speed measures the speed of the connection for uploading data from a user’s device to the internet. Latency – which refers to 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.
For example, 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, and you may want to check your home network setup (bufferbloat.net has useful recommendations) or consult with your ISP.
Basically what Netflix are saying in the above statement is; there are multiple factors that affect your internet speed at the end of the day, not just upload and download speed as many people think.