Netflix’s Fast.com Tool To Test Download Speeds Looks Like A Hamstrung SpeedTest Ticker
It's a simple test found on Fast.com that measures your download speed from any location in the world and on any device, be it a desktop PC or a mobile phone. The test lacks the bells and whistles of SpeedTest, in that it doesn't detect your ping or upload speed, nor does it let you choose from different testing locations.
"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. When you’re experiencing streaming issues, fast.com allows you to check the download speeds you’re getting from your Internet service provider," Netflix states in a blog post. "Using Netflix servers, fast.com works like other globally available tools including speedtest.net, and the results should be similar in most cases."
We put that claim to the test by running each service three times and taking the average speed. Fast.com reported speeds of 51Mbps, 51Mbps, and 52Mbps for an average of 51.33Mbps. SpeedTest gave us considerably higher measurements of 61.83Mbps, 61.95Mbps, and 59.35Mbps for an average speed of 61.04Mbps.
SpeedTest takes a little longer to run and seems to be taking a more thorough measurement. The results are certainly closer to our subscribed paid tier from Charter (60Mbps).
In a related FAQ, Netflix explains that its tool measures the download speed from its own servers. It also explains that it leaves out data like ping, latency, jitter, and other fine tune measurements to keep it simple, adding that "it is not a network engineer's analysis and diagnostic suite."
Netflix's speed test is different from its ISP Speed Index, the latter of which measures average monthly speeds of actual Netflix streams during prime time hours. The ISP Speed Index is also helpful in determining if ISPs are throttling Netflix traffic.