We’ve seen TV programmes like the Gadget Show urge us to test our broadband speeds to make sure that we’re getting the fast connection speed we pay for. In response, internet providers have hit back and criticised the way these tests are carried out, saying that they cannot be relied upon to provide accurate results.
Virgin Media in particular has said that these tests rely on “dirty data”. Online speed tests generally work by sending a file to a computer and then timing how long it takes to determine the broadband speed used. According to Virgin, this payload is often too small to give an accurate result.
Virgin is further concerned that tests for new services which will provide a lightning fast 50Mbps (megabits per second) will be even more inaccurate as the error margin on these tests is amplified with faster speeds.
The broadband provider has also criticised the way web-based speed tests measure only how fast data is able to travel from one part of the internet to another, which can be prone to bottlenecks and delays.
Other factors that can skew results include the number of people using the test at a particular time as well as the processing power of individual computers.
Despite voicing concerns, Virgin Media appears to be performing well in broadband speed tests. Latest figures from independent broadband comparison site Point Topic showed Virgin Media at the top of the league table for delivering on its speed promises.
Source: BBC News