As a society, the internet has become entrenched in our daily lives. Usually everything works just as expected. However, sometimes websites just don’t load as quickly as we would like or Netflix freezes and buffers every 30 seconds. Speed testing websites and mobile apps have exploded in popularity for obvious reasons.
There are many speed testing websites that claim to be able to accurately measure your internet speed. Although no internet speed test is overly accurate, some are definitely more accurate than others. Ookla’s Speedtest.net is by far the most famous speed test, Virtually everyone has used the website at one time or another. There are however a number of other speed test options. In May of 2016 Netflix launched Fast.com to help users troubleshoot their streaming issues. Is fast.com accurate?
Fast.com is not overly accurate as a general purpose speed test. Fast.com is however useful for troubleshooting Netflix connection issues. If you notice that your stream keeps buffering, running a quick speed test at fast.com is a good idea. Fast.com can also be useful for identifying ISP traffic shaping (throttling) of video traffic.
The problem with Fast.com is when people try to use it as a general purpose speed test. Your results generally going to be lower than on the other speed testing websites. This is especially true if you have an internet connection of 100 Mbps or faster. A 4K Netflix stream uses a maximum of 25 Mbps. For this reason Netflix has no interest in whether you are getting anything higher than that.
The fast.com speed test does not accurately measure speeds over 100 Mbps. If you are getting less than 5 Mbps you may have issues streaming in HD and if you are getting less than 25 Mbps you may have issues streaming in 4K. A better option for general purpose speed testing is to use one of two other popular speed test websites.
Some internet service providers (ISPs) restrict your connection speed to services such as Netflix in an attempt to reduce your data usage. This is most common with cellular based internet connections. Generally it is clearly stated in the terms of service you agreed to when you signed up for service. This speed restriction is commonly referred to as throttling, deprioritization, traffic shaping, or network management.
In most cases this is undesirable, but in some cases this is actually a good thing. If you have a limited size data bucket for the month, automatically streaming at a lower resolution depending on the device type may not be a bad thing. You will be very hard pressed to tell an HD stream from a 4K stream on a smartphone display. You will however notice when your data lasts several times longer.
- It tests the speed of your internet connection to Netflix’s servers a common streaming platform.
- The service is advertisement free.
- Fast.com can help you to identify if your ISP is throttling your video streaming.
- It is not accurate as a purpose speed test especially with a faster internet connection (100+ Mbps+).
- Results are limited by the Netflix infrastructure.
Fast.com is useful for testing your bandwidth to the Netflix infrastructure. Otherwise it is a poor choice as a general purpose speed test. They are much better options out these such as Speedtest.net or Xfinity Speed Test.