YouTube speed tester: Net Neutrality judo will show you when your ISP is messing with you


Google has rolled out a YouTube speed-tester that tells you how your ISP stacks up against other ISPs in your town and country, to "give you the ability to compare your speed numbers with other users in your region."

Translation: Google is giving you the ammo you need to fight back if your ISP sucks, or if it is twiddling the knobs to discriminate against Google. It's a brilliant piece of pro-Net Neutrality judo, and I can only hope that they follow it up by figuring out tools that let users speed test all kinds of services and protocols so that we can get a picture of how ISPs are messing with us.

YouTube Video Speed History (via DVICE)

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  1. So what does it mean when the Me speed is 2.6 and the ISP speed is 5.2? Other than that Time Warner Cable sucks?

    1. I canceled my Time Warner internet a few days ago; the final straw really was how pitifully slow youtube was. I tried listening to a playlist in the shower and I couldn’t even get through one song, listening to 2 second fragments for 15 minutes. $60/month and it could only reliably stream youtube at like 5 AM, which is not to mention that the entire service was down more often than not during the 2 weeks prior to canceling. I’m just using university net and leeching from neighbors now, and it feels great not paying TW a single dime anymore.

  2. 743Kbps, vs a global average of 3Mbps. And my country average is only 564Kbps. My ISP sucks. All the ISPs in the entire country sucks.

    But this tool is great. Ammo to write the local politicians about needing to put more money to boost broadband speeds.

  3. Comcast is sub-average as it is at 2.68 Mbps (and AT&T’s worse at 1.67), but the bigger problem is being in 2.00 Mbps Houston. But even THEN I’m getting screwed at 1.58 Mbps. (Or maybe it’s just the combination of the two factors, and this is typical for Houston Comcast users — need more data.)

    Wonder what they’d say at Comcast if I called and asked for an explanation?

  4. Something’s wacked on my end. I think.

    I’m 10.49 Mbps. ISP’s 7.59. City’s 5.41 Canada: 4.37 Global 2.81 Mbsp.

    1. That’s similar to what I’m seeing. 7.84Mbps for me and 3.22 for my ISP. How can that be? Or is it just that I’m sitting on a backbone and the ISP figure is for the country as a whole?

      1. ISPs generally offer differing levels of service, and this can be different in different areas.

        For example, my local provider Shaw Cable has packages for 1.5, 5, 10, and 20Mbps downstream bandwidth. Their main competitor, SaskTel, has similar speeds. However, in rural areas, the maximum speed available is 1.5Mbps, because their long-distance lines aren’t able to provide the same speeds.

        Averaged across all of their clients, it’s possible to see numbers like 3Mbps, even though some clients have as much as 20Mbps. All YouTube can tell you is the average. Too bad they don’t give you some percentiles, like the 10th and 90th, so you can judge whether your average is sufficiently different from the rest. For all it’s worth, YouTube failed at statistics.

        Basically, compare your bandwidth against what your ISP says you are paying for. If it’s significantly less (I would say 20% or more), you probably have something worth complaining about.

  5. BUT, they don´t provide numbers for a different provider, state or country.

    So if I am in Spain just can compare to a “global” average (wich we are bellow, by the way, even if our ISP are charging the highest prices in Europe).

    Thanks to the image in your post, though, I can see Britain is over that average. It would be cool to gather that data.

    Mine is ( telefonica, Madrid, Madrid region, Spain): 1.6, 1.83, 1.88, 1.88.

  6. It’s useless for me, it reports that my speed is twice as fast as everyone else. This is because I pay 10$ extra a month for faster speeds. It needs a way to compare my service package to similar service packages.

  7. Not exactly “pro-Net Neutrality judo”. More like “pro-Google judo”. The comparisons are not named. I’m not against this concept, but the data is useless.

  8. So Google sets up a small test group in North America with ultra-fast Internet access then slags off all the ISPs in the world for not matching their ability to download their YouTube ads.
    ISP deathmatch!
    Good marketing. I don’t think this is about net neutrality. Hope the fast access gets expanded.

  9. I got 4.0, almost as much as my ISP. Crap result compared to the rest of my country. ISP 4.3, Town 7.4, Country 5.9.

  10. I used a speed test to corner Comcast recently about slow bandwidth. After confronting them pointblank they “reset” my service so I would get the bandwidth I paid for. When I retested it the bandwidth improved greatly (for about an hour) then it slowed down again. It’s a big improvement from before but it is still .5 mbs less than the stated minimum on my package. I guess they figure if they shave a little from everyone they win big in the end.

  11. It must be nice to have choices. Eastern NC. We only have one choice. Embarq. Nobody else offers service here, other than a dial-up or two. I’m glad we have it, but still…it’s take it or leave it.

  12. Can someone explain this a bit better? Maybe it’s my hangover, but it’s not computing.

    If I have a speed of 3.01 Mbps then I compare that to the package I’m buying to see if I’m being stiffed? Surely Youtube doesn’t allow streaming at 20 Mbps anyway?

    For net neutrality use, It’d be good to see comparisons with other providers in a smaller geographical area. How do I know if my speed is typical of my area without that?

  13. There are far more things than just performance. This is a very useful tool to see relative performance, but there is a lot more than could go on. In particular, I’m worried about ISPs and other doing port filtering, DNS manipulations, and a ton of other issues.

    Thats why in particular we’ve developed Netalyzr (at netalyzr.icsi.berkeley.edu), which is a very comprehensive free tool, which runs in Java from the web browser, to detect such issues, as well as for network debugging and the basis for a general survey of Internet health.

  14. Wow, Nicholas, that Netalyzr is awesome. Also reports slightly higher download speed (3.8 vs 3.01 Mbps) than the above Youtube page.

  15. This has nothing to do with net neutrality, quite the opposite! All it will do is motivate ISPs to favor YouTube to artificially inflate their stats! Good for Google, not good for net neutrality.

    1. Since my town has a university with a fast backbone, and the graph for my town peaks whenever my own bandwidth drops, I suspect the students suck the bandwidth dry like vampires. Stupid privileged students.

  16. The bar graph on the left shows your average YouTube download speed versus that of others on your same ISP, in your city, in your country, in your region, and world-wide. Your average download speed could be faster or slower than the average of everyone on your ISP due to regional discrepancies involving the use of fiber optic lines versus standard cable or telephone lines, the density of people utilizing the available bandwidth provided by your ISP, and the time of day at which you normally watch videos. As such, this is a highly subjective measurement, and needs more statistical analysis (standard deviation would be a good start) as well as an indication of specifically what areas the ISP measurement covers (is it just people in your city on your ISP? It doesn’t say) before it should be taken with more than a grain of salt.

  17. Internet bandwidth tests have been around for a long time, but this is certainly a new application for it. Most speed tests assume that the speed to them is the speed to everybody else, but in the fight over net neutrality, that’s not necessarily the case. ISPs are likely to give priority to internet bandwidth test websites, while discriminating against bandwidth-intensive sites like YouTube. The only way to know if YouTube themselves is being penalized is for them to offer their own speed test.

    Bonus points if somebody can put together a test to compare speeds between websites ISPs might give preference to (speed tests, their own sites, common sites like Google) and sites/protocols they might wish to penalize (Torrent websites, the BitTorrent protocol, competing VoIP services, YouTube/Hulu, etc.).

    We know many (maybe even most) ISPs are guilty of it, but we need the evidence to prove it, and this is a great way to accomplish that.

  18. This may be affected by other factors. I’m a big downloader, so I watch youtube while downloading large (entirely legal) files.

  19. “Google is giving you the ammo you need to fight back if your ISP sucks, or if it is twiddling the knobs to discriminate against Google.”

    Who would do that? I’d be more concerned that my ISP would discriminate against *everyone else* thus rendering this test useless as a general measure of the bandwidth I’m getting.

    It’s much more likely that an ISP makes sure youtube is smooth than, say, any site that’s not one of the most popular on the Internet.

  20. I don’t see where it will help me. What am I going to do? Call Hughesnet and tell them they need to turn the spigot up because they aren’t on par?

    Hughesnet are a bunch of bandwidth Nazis and they could care less if my connection is slow. A few youtube videos will send me into “Fair Access Policy” jail which is just another name for behavior modification; i.e. blame me for being a bandwidth hog and punish me accordingly.

  21. They say it is affected by many factors, including the speed of your computer. I’m not sure the “your current location” line will give you a lot of useful information about your ISP.

  22. Thank you! Ran the test, called my ISP, a technician will be coming out next Thursday to see why my speed is less than half their usual, which is bad enough. Nobody should live on a 1.06 when the neighbors have a 2.38!

  23. Even thought I came up with a month’s average 7Mbps on this test, Speedtest always shows me between 15 and 40Mbps. If I run both of them right now, YT has me under 10 and Speedtest puts me at 17.

  24. Have not done this yet, but it’ll probably not work outside the USA.

    As I am on a 3 mobile modem in Australia that brags it can deliver broadband but actually clocks in at sub dial up, ie > 56kbps…..seriously Oz internet is feeble, I doubt it’ll make much difference.

    I actually called the 3 network about their awful service and they said, and I quote, “Oh we don’t support streaming video on our broadband package”

    ……WTF?

  25. In Iraklio on the island of Crete, Greece, I get
    – Me 4.58 Mbps,
    – ISP 1.75,
    – Iraklio 1.82,
    – Greece 1.86,
    – Global 2.91.
    However, it is 7AM and I guess that needs to be factored in. Still not bad though for an area where ISDN was considered “broadband” six years ago.

  26. If you go to YouTube Help Forum you will see thousands of complaints about abysmally slow YouTube speeds and not a single responsible response from YouTube since last June 2009. I’m getting 68kbytes/sec much of the time but at 5am I can get normal 1-2 Mbytes/sec from YouTube. It seems to be throttled but it doesn’t seem to be consistent enough to say it’s an ISP issue, most will blame YouTube servers. Other services such as Hulu are unaffected.

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