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Testing Broadband Speed and More!

It’s not uncommon for people to read the headline figure on their broadband connection “8 meg” and think they have a good deal then wonder why SKYPE gives them problems!  Here’s a simple guide to getting wise (important: see 2021 updates at the end).

Many standard Internet connections in the UK use what is called ADSL – all you need to know is that this means you don’t get the same speed in both directions.  When you’re told you have an “8 meg” connection that usually means the maximum DOWNLOAD (data coming to you). The reality is usually less than that and depends on CONTENTION (how many other people are sharing your connection at any moment in time) and UPLOAD (data going FROM you).

Also important is the PING time – i.e. if you send a bit of data out – how long before it actually gets to the other end.

Fortunately there are some free tools to help you get to the bottom of this without being a rocket scientist. These sites are easy to use and more or less self-explanatory. When I get a minute I’ll go into more detail but for now, consider this.. you have your sparkly new 8 MEG connection and Skype doesn’t seem to work well. In reality it’s your upload speed that is important together with any delays… you SEND video/audio to the other guy and he SENDS video/audio to you – the download speed doesn’t really come into it as long as it is faster than the upload speed.  Of course all of this assumes your kids are not downloading war and peace…

Have a play with these tools – out of interest the results you see are my own rural broadband results.

Testing Upload and DOWNLOAD speeds

Two excellent sites are….






Testing PING and JITTER

Try this out – it’s pretty self-explanatory.



Update November 2021

Note that the above blog entry was written in 2011 before I created my now very popular tech blog – anything of a technical/gadget nature you’ll now find several year’s worth of work in there.

Clearly the comments above about ADSL and speeds are now utterly out of date. In the UK I’d say most people have fibre, Spacex Starlink revolutionary low-altitude satellite network is starting to make headway (though the price is still extremely high) and as I’m now predominently Spain-based, we have high speed fibre in all except very rural areas where for example I’m still on 30Mbps download speed provided by a local dish from town into the outlying areas. However much of the information above is still valid – speedtest.net still works… and see below…

I was just sent this “PixelPrivacy” link to loads of info on testing broadband – you may find it very useful.

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