Using a speed test to indicate the likely experience of an Internet customer is like trying to gauge a car’s performance simply by looking at its speedometer.
That’s according to Huge Networks Commercial Director, Rad Jankovic, who says there are other ways to more accurately measure Internet Service Provider (ISP) performance.
“Internet speed tests are unreliable indicators of Internet customer experience. They are limited by factors that are not related to the capacity of the Internet line such as everything from the physical distance to the server to congestion on the local LAN. There are too many variables that can contribute towards inaccurate readings and advertised speed test results should, therefore, be approached with circumspection,” says Jankovic.
SA’s ICT market has matured to the point where mobile and fixed-line data prices are falling and there are numerous licensed operators providing a healthy mix of voice and data value-added services. Speed is just one element of this total telecoms offering.
Questions should be asked of prospective ISPs that relate to reliability during adverse weather conditions, theft resistance, fair usage policies and more.
Huge Networks is advising its clients to concentrate less on bits and bytes and more on subjective measures of consumer satisfaction that put smiles on customer dials.
“Speeds are getting better all the time and to the point where that base is covered. Business and end consumers now need to work with their ICT providers to fully understand what other elements of their subscriptions can be tweaked to better effect,” says Jankovic.
Selecting a provider by focusing only on download speed, upload speed and latency is bound to be disappointing when the choice is made without taking into account uptime, support and the wording of that all-important Service Level Agreement (SLA).
With regards to the latter, the most basic consideration should be its flexibility.
“Can your chosen provider commit to a bespoke voice and data offering?”, asks Jankovic.
“Waxing lyrical about download speeds while routinely knocking round pegs into square holes is not the way to keep people coming back for more,” he adds.
If business and end consumers do want hard-and-fast data before committing to ICT contracts, potential customers should ask prospective ISPs to provide them with custom tools. “Capacity should be tested and measured from the client’s router using iPerf which is a widely-used professional tool for network performance measurement and tuning that produces standardised performance measurements,” explains Jankovic.