The Broadband Forum has initiated the development of a new broadband speed test based on open source and User Datagram Protocol (UDP), which aims to provide “more precise results” and “updated methods and metrics more suited to the gigabit services currently deployed. “
Accuracy always has an issue with testing any type of Internet connection. For example, traditional web-based speed tests can easily be affected or polluted by issues like slow WiFi, local network congestion (for example, background updates or other users consuming bandwidth while the test is running) and various other issues (for example, limitations of the remote server used for the test).
One solution is to put the test equipment before the WiFi and have it work during times of connectivity inactivity (i.e. low network traffic), which can usually be achieved by installing a custom-modified router in the network (e.g. the SamKnows approach, as used by Ofcom and Virgin Media, etc.)
Many of these test systems tend to exploit the Transmission control protocol (TCP), which defines how to establish and maintain IP network communication through which software can exchange data, but the forum notes that they become “less precise”At speeds above 500 Mbps. Some tests can also leverage a bit of UDP, which is better for creating low latency, loss-tolerant connections between Internet applications.
At first glance, this might suggest that the Broadband Forum’s decision to focus on UDP (with a touch of Google WHO WHAT) is meant to target issues of connection latency and reliability, instead of raw data speed, but they actually plan to tackle both through what they call the UDP-based IP capacity metric (PDF). The forum claims that this new tool will “allow the replacement of many existing test tools, some running on TCP. “
At present, we still know very little about the underlying approach and the implementation plans for it. The forum simply states that speed test adoption will be driven by an open source implementation, with basic runtime code provided by a US network operator, AT&T. Several large international and American operators are also already registered and support the project.
Robin Mersh, CEO of the Broadband Forum, said:
“User experience is at the heart of any service provider’s offering, and today’s consumers expect their broadband service to deliver speed, low latency and transparency. A benefit for both providers and consumers, UDP speed testing is a game-changer, providing a yardstick to ensure next-generation networks meet the expectations of the entire industry and can deliver the connected services we consume. each day.
Internet service providers are currently facing increasing regulatory requirements to provide consumers with an effective demonstration of their maximum subscription speeds, which is likely what prompted the forum to initiate development of the new tool. We believe this type of tool would work best in the code of a broadband router.
In the meantime, the Broadband Forum is planning to host a webinar to discuss it on October 21, 2020 (here).