Incidentally, not every speed test is also intended for testing faster gigabit connections But before customers contact their internet service provider, they must run a speed test to actually determine the bandwidth size. “During a speed test, data packets are sent back and forth to one or more test servers in order to get information about speed and latency,” explains Christian Jest at Computerbild.
The download and upload rate is measured directly in the browser or with the installers, but also the so-called ping value, which measures the reaction time of the Internet connection, is measured. “The higher this value, the slower the streak,” says Jest.
Test only on the LAN cable
Often the results are very different. “There are a lot of things that cannot be overcome in speed tests,” says Ernst Ahler of the specialized magazine “c’t”. “It starts with the computer itself and ends with the test servers involved.” “The most important thing: you should always run a speed test using a LAN connection, so the computer should be connected directly to the router via cable,” says Ahlers.
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Measurements over WLAN are not meaningful because the actual bandwidth can be affected by many disruptive factors. Nothing else should be running during the test: no software, no downloads, no videos, no open browser. And the computer should not be very old. “If the test was run, for example, with a laptop with an old processor, the result could be worse,” says Ahlers.
Another crucial factor for the speed test result is the number of intermediate stops the signal should make to the test server and how strong the remote station is. If the test server is overloaded, the rate drops. “With some speed tests you can choose the test server yourself and you will find that the results can be very different when switching,” says Ahlers.
Documentation is everything
The measurement result can also be affected by anti-virus software. Jest advises, “You only have to turn it off or even uninstall it if the speed test results are completely out of the ordinary.”
If you want to confront your internet provider with the speed test results, you must document the measurements. On many sites with speed tests, this is possible after registration. The Federal Network Agency’s speed test integrated campaign functionality into the desktop version. “After completing the specified measurements, the consumer receives a measurement report with which he can contact the provider,” explains Michael Reifenberg of the Federal Network Agency.
At least ten measurements should be taken over two days. Then there is also an assessment of how the actual bandwidth is in compliance with the contractually agreed upon. Service providers must publish a product information sheet with all important values for each tariff.
Not getting enough
In the event of a discrepancy, for example, you can claim that there is no faster speed from the provider. If this is not possible, you may be able to agree to a slower tariff change in a conversation with the provider and then of course pay less.
“If a solution cannot be found this way, the Federal Network Agency’s Consumer Service can help,” says Reifenberg. In general, the situation is vigilant when you look at agency numbers. According to the 2018/2019 annual report, only 16.4 percent of fixed broadband connection users received a contractually agreed data transfer rate upon download. 70.1 percent halved.
Speed tests should start at different times of the day, especially when it comes to cable internet connections. “Because the bandwidth is divided among all users in the case of cable connections, fluctuations in measurements are particularly high here,” says Jest. Cable customers have to cope with speed drops, especially in the evening.
Any speed test for what?
Incidentally, not every speed test is suitable for testing faster (1000Mbps) gigabit connections. With the Federal Network Agency’s broadband measurement, there are only test results of 500 Mbps in the browser. To test faster connections, the software must be installed.
“It is generally advisable to run as many different tests as possible in order to determine reliable values,” advises Ernst Ahlers of the specialist journal c’t. The Federal Network Agency’s broadband measurement is always a good headline because the results are included in the Comprehensive Network Coverage Assessment in Germany.