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Virgin Media tests the testers

# Nov 12, 07:40 PM by matt

In anticipation of the launch of its 50Mbps broadband service, Virgin Media has been “testing the testers”, to see if various popular speedtest websites will be able to provide accurate results for customers who take Virgin’s forthcoming flagship broadband tier.

Virgin Media has been collaborating with speedtest.net and other speedtest websites, to see how well they cope with VM’s high speed broadband services, and to try and help improve them if necessary so that they are able to give VM customers more accurate results. VM feels that poor speedtesting can lead to customers making uninformed decisions regarding broadband performance – especially as some speedtest websites are also broadband comparison sites.

The 10 speedtest websites tested were:

Speedtest.net (London)
Speedtest.net (Maidenhead)
Broadband.co.uk
Broadband-Expert.co.uk
ISPReview.co.uk
BroadbandChoices.co.uk
BroadbandWatchdog.co.uk
BroadbandSpeedChecker.co.uk
Thinkbroadband.com
BroadbandGenie.co.uk

VM’s 20Mbps testing found that only two sites consistently passed the 90% threshold – ThinkBroadband.com (19.21Mbps average) and Speedtest.net London (19.53Mbps average). The average result across all ten sites was 10.2Mbps.

For the 50Mbps testing, ThinkBroadband.com was the only site which consistently passed the 90% threshold (48.91Mbps average). The average result across all ten sites was 23.27Mbps.

VM used its “Next Generation” platform to ensure that no capacity or contention or issues were introduced on the Virgin Media side, and the tests were baselined using VM’s own Performance Monitoring sites.

Jon James, Director of Group Strategy at Virgin Media said:

“Most speed testing sites are not accurately measuring the new generation of high speed broadband services offering 20Mb and above – so there is a real risk that customers are being misled. Our testing of 10 major speedtesting sites found only one accurately measured our upcoming 50Mb service, and only two accurately reporting on our 20Mb service. The various speedtest sites are now collaborating with us to improve standards to ensure consumers are able to make well-informed choices, however our results show there is still a long way to go.”

Sebastien Lahtinen, (co-founder), www.thinkbroadband.com said:

“We have worked hard with service providers including Virgin Media to ensure our speed test is ready for next generation broadband services and we’re delighted that Virgin Media’s tests have shown this has worked. We are glad to be able to support Virgin Media and its new high speed 50 meg service and look forward to continuing to work together to push the boundaries further.”

Richard Shaw of www.samknows.com said:

“SamKnows shares Virgin Media’s desire to improve industry standards relating to broadband performance. Accurate information is essential for consumers looking to get a service that suits their needs – be it a casual surfer, a heavy user, or many people sharing a single home connection. SamKnows agrees with Virgin Media, that whilst web based speed-testers are a useful tool, there is still some way to go. SamKnows’ performance testing project with Ofcom and UK ISPs including Virgin Media, is designed to improve industry standards, and is focused ongiving the consumer the first reliable method of measuring ISP performance.”

The results are due to be published on Virgin Media’s website soon.

Our forum currently has a discussion related to this here (started after an earlier BBC news story related to this back in October).

Update:

I have also posted the anonymised results of October’s speedtest testing as an attachment here

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