Well, now there’s a crowdsourced, Consumer Reports–like way to find out, thanks to the folks who run the online speed testing service Speedtest.net.
The company, which runs more than a million tests a day on its main testing page, updated its broadband statistics site NetIndex.com on Tuesday to let users see comparative results sorted by city. For instance, Los Angeles sees an average speed of 7.2 Mbps, with the Road Runner service slightly edging Charter Communications for the top speed — 16.97 Mbps compared to Charter’s 16.4 Mbps.
Moreover, since Speedtest.net asks users to rate their satisfaction with their ISP, you can see user rankings as well, with Road Runner clocking a 3.2 out of 5 stars, compared to 2.9 for Charter and 2.5 for third-place AT&T Worldnet.
The point, according to Speedtest.net co-founder Doug Suttles, is to make it easier for people to find a new ISP when moving to town, or when they want to find a better provider.
The speed data is compiled from the previous 30 days worth of data, and is updated daily, while the satisfaction ratings reflect votes placed over years. The rankings aren’t particularly easy to find. The best way is to start on the Net Index homepage, scroll down to the state map and click on your state. Then under Cities, click on the tab to change the listing to “By IP Address” to find your city. The city-by-city data currently focuses on the United States, but will be expanding and there’s plenty of international data already.
New York City beats Los Angeles on average speed, with an average of 11 Mbps, raised in no small part because AT&T’s Worldnet service in the Big Apple registers an average 21.32 Mbp average, with Road Runner landing just behind at 17.29.
The data, Suttles argues, shows that broadband in the United States is better than many say think.
“For the most part our feeling is the ISPs get a bad rap,” Suttles said. “The government wants people to be convinced that broadband is terrible but we are a pretty sprawled-out country. We are hoping politicians look at this and realize it is not so bad in some places.”
Ookla, the parent company for Speedtest.net, is no newcomer to the world of broadband. It was founded four years ago as a spinoff from the ISP Speakeasy and sells versions of Speedtest.net’s testing service to nearly all the net’s top ISPs.
Speedtest.net was started largely as a tech demonstration, according to Suttles, but has since grown to be the place people turn to when they want to test their connections. And now, the site provides more than half the company’s revenue, thanks to lucrative ads like those for Google’s Chrome browser.
Now the company is asking testers to tell the company what speeds they were promised and how much they are paying, in order to come up with a ranking of ISPs by value and by which ones deliver the speeds they promise.
The company’s preliminary data-crunching results may come as a surprise to some.
“Nationally, 93 percent of people are getting the speed they signed up for,” Suttles said. “That’s definitively a different story than anyone else is telling.”
The company also has free mobile apps for Android and the iPhone as well, but data from those tests is not reflected in these results. Also not included is data from the testing suites the company provides directly to ISPs.
Some have questioned the methodology of the Speedtest.net tests and whether its tests are representative of the nation as a whole. In its defense, the company points to a recent MIT evaluation of different methodologies that found Speedtest.net was the best of the currently available data sources .