[Cerowrt-devel] [Bloat] Check out www.speedof.me - no Flash

Rich Brown richb.hanover at gmail.com
Fri Jul 25 11:46:27 EDT 2014

Hi Neil,

> I have a deep worry over this style of single point measurement - and hence speed - as an appropriate measure. We know, and have evidence, that throughput/utilisation is not a good proxy for the network delivering suitable quality of experience. We work with organisation (Telco’s, large system integrators etc) where we spend a lot of time having to “undo” the consequences of “maximising speed”. Just like there is more to life than work, there is more to QoE than speed.

I completely agree with this: those of us who have spent the time to ponder the physics of the problem have come to understand it in its full glory (and complexity). We know that a single number ain't the answer.
But one of my other goals is to increase the awareness of the bufferbloat problem. People *do* use these speed test services, despite their inaccuracy. If those sites could include some form of measurement about the latency (and its change) under load, it makes it easier to describe the problem to others.

The long-term solution is, of course, to get router vendors to realize there's a problem and then respond to market pressures to fix it. I gained a lot of insight from http://apenwarr.ca/log/?m=201407#11 - it has a description of the difficult economic justification for selling a "good router". But where that author was trying to start a company, we're in a different position. 

Good latency info in a popular speed test website elevates its importance to the general public. It moves you out of the "nutcase" category ("What's this bufferbloat stuff this guy's talking about?"), into a concerned customer who's offering a useful observation. And it gives credibility when you bug providers. Examples:

- A lot of people reflexively check speedtest.net when they check into a hotel, and then post/tweet the results. If the results include min/max latency, then they can begin to comment to the hotel (where they may even have been charged for the service) when things aren't good. 
- I frequently ride a bus to Boston that offers free wifi. I already know they're badly bloated (>20 seconds(!)). With a tool like this, it's easier to begin a conversation with the operations people that lets them put pressure on their own router vendor. 
- Home and commercial users can use these values to tell their ISPs that there's a problem, and the expense of fielding those support calls provides some incentive to address the problem.
- Heaven forbid one vendor/provider snatch up the idea and tout it as a competitive advantage... :-)

We've shown that there is a straightforward fix to the problem. With increased awareness from their customers, I hold out hope that we can begin to change the world.

</utopian rant>



PS Thanks to Sebastian for the comments, and Martin for those links.
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