There are many dimensions involved in assessing the performance of your Internet service, from the line your ISP provides, to the WiFi coverage and performance within your home. Sometimes, even computer settings and options can have a big impact.
To help customers sort through the various scenarios, this page will document and guide you on several steps you can take to asses your performance.
Local network performance testing
Most speed tests are end-to-end tests that measure the raw capacity of the entire chain between your device and a remote testing server. As we explain in this article on speed test evaluation, there are a lot of variables included, often, to many to make a good assessment of what the fundamental bottleneck is.
One way to focus the testing is to see if some of the issues might be due to local conditions, typically due to poor WiFi performance. To do this, one needs a performance server local to the home network. The IQrouter makes one available on the router itself, making it easy to get metrics of local area performance without any other link distorting the picture. As described in this how-to on running iPerf you can use desktop, laptop or mobile iPerf clients to initiate a test session between the device and the router. When done over WiFi, this can show the actual throughput of that device in a given location. Many are surprised at just how low an actual speed WiFi can provide if there is sufficient distance or interference between the client an the WiFi access point. It will also highlight just how variable WiFi can be as well.
Not only does the client show you the speed, but the IQrouters administrative interface also shows the output of the iPerf server running in the IQrouter:
End to end speed tests
For performing complete end-to-end tests, we highly recommend the dslreports.com/speedtest as being the most comprehensive and easy-to-run test.
But please follow the following guidelines for the most accurate results:
- Use a fast, modern computer or tablet to run this. Accuracy drops on slow devices.
- Use Google Chrome as the browser or if Mac / iOS use Safari
- Preferably, a desktop/laptop directly wired via Ethernet into the router
- Alternately, if using WiFi, be within 5 to 10’ line-of sight of the router/WiFi access point
- Ensure there is a little traffic on the network as possible, as reading accuracy will be affected if another device is busy uploading/downloading something.
Interpreting the results
When the DSLreports.com speedtest completes, it displays an image summarizing the test. It also shows a green ‘Results & Share’ button, which when clicked-on will show much more detail about your test. The most important being the latency measurements in the Bufferbloat section.
An IQrouter should have low-latency metrics, as the traffic management should be controlling the bloat. But do note that on extremely slow DSL lines (below 3Mbps), the latencies in the link and the associated backhaul are often not related to bloat but to high link-level retransmissions, which can only be corrected with a better line.
The DSL test generates a grade for a metric they call ‘Quality’, which is a bit of a misnomer, as it reflects all packet re-transmissions. If the re-transmission is due to ISP infrastructure deficiencies, it would be fair to characterize that as a lack of quality, but traffic management algorithms also generate re-transmissions under load (as the line lacks capacity), and these are an expected side effect of maintaining low-latency flows. So depending on source, it is either a bad or a good thing. We put more weight on the bloat grade as being more relevant to what the customer perceives as true internet quality.
Router-based Speed test
The most accurate measure of the ISPs line true capability is to run a test that accounts for all the traffic running through the router, and means it must be run on the router itself. The IQrouter is the first router to feature a super-accurate speed test that reports true peak throughput as well as total and test throughputs. The difference between test and total will be the other traffic most other tests miss. To run this, log into your IQrouter administrative interface and select Configure->Speed Test.