Netflix’s Fast.com Bandwidth Meter Has Generated 500 Million Speed Tests to Date

Internet-measurement tool updated to provide upload speed, latency metrics

netflix fast com
Courtesy of Netflix

In just over two years, Netflix’s Fast.com free tool for checking internet service provider speeds has produced more than 500 million tests.

Now the streaming-video provider is adding two new metrics to Fast.com: connection latency and upload speed. Netflix’s Fast.com calculates latency — how long it takes for data packets to travel from your device to a server and back — in two ways: “unloaded latency,” when there is no other traffic present on a user’s network; and “loaded latency,” when data-heavy applications are being used on the same network.

Netflix set up the Fast.com tool as a way for customers to see if they were getting sufficient performance from their internet connection for high-quality video. The latency metrics are another way for the company to show users that any video-streaming issues they’re encountering are more likely related to their ISP or their home-networking equipment — rather than Netflix’s servers.

For Netflix users experiencing high latency, the company suggests checking their network setup (pointing users to bufferbloat.net for recommendations) — or to check with their ISP. Separately, Netflix has published a Speed Index ranking for years, which also is designed to show which providers are delivering the best average connection speeds.

“We all want a faster, better internet, yet internet speeds vary greatly and can be affected by other users on your network, or congestion with your internet service provider,” Sergey Fedorov, senior software engineer on Netflix’s content delivery team, wrote in a blog post about the Fast.com enhancements.

Netflix launched Fast.com in May 2016 and the service reached the quarter-billion speed tests milestone in November 2017. It generated another 250 million speed tests from December 2017 to June 2018, according to the company.