Broadband News

Standard defined for testing performance through routers

Testing broadband connections has always been a problem for broadband providers and with no standard for doing this via the ADSL modem most attempts to measure this are end-user initiated or using third-party hardware.

The DSL Forum at its latest meeting in Montreal has approved a new technical report entitled "Network Service Provider initiated throughput performance testing". This report defines a way that software embedded within the xDSL modem or router can carry out performance testing and do it in a reproducible manner.

Next generation services like IPTV which are available now are cited as the ideal use of this technology. Certainly for customers of BT Retail and its Vision product customers would probably benefit from the decision on whether their line will support 2Mbps download speeds switching from simply looking at what the line checker says (which has a tendency to under estimate potential speeds) and look at the actual performance of a line. This testing can also be used to monitor connections, spotting areas of congestion, assessing the impact of firmware upgrades on the various points of the network and much more.

The biggest advantage of a comprehensive testing suite would be that if you phone up with a speed issue the provider can carry out tests there and then that actually use your ADSL line and avoid the need to hand hold people as they log onto various test websites. Alternatively a provider could pro-actively test a percentage of its users each day to build a picture of its network performance.

One immediate response from people on metered accounts will be whether this system when eventually deployed would eat up their usage allowance. Well yes any traffic across the connection counts, but since the testing is provider initiated there is scope for them to suspend usage monitoring when running tests, or simply subtract the expected usage from the running total for an account.


If users could see the same data as ISPs it would be a great idea. At the moment we rely on ISPs to feed back the information honestly - in my experience they rarely do, or at least not until the solution is found - or not bother at all.

  • bosie
  • over 12 years ago

Or they'll both not compensate the user and for people reporting faults add "remote line testing" to the user's bill for the month.

Be realistic.

  • Dawn_Falcon
  • over 12 years ago

Router vendors have had years to add some kind of diagnostic facility. Very very few have bothered. Where's the incentive for them to do this? Meanwhile folk will swap routers to get an extra few kbit/s sync speed (without knowing whether the resulting throughput is any different)...

The good folks at netmonitor tried to do some ISP performance monitoring a couple of years back and eventually gave up. Samknows is about to have a go too (using a slightly different approach). It would be seriously useful information for punters and ISPs to have, which is why I hope Sam's stuff works out.

  • c_j_
  • over 12 years ago

You would be amazed just what different firmware can do for actual THROUGHOUT. I have a netgear router and have tried 3 different types of firmware... Official and 2 different hacked versions, with all router config settings set the same the actual sync and throughput varies considerably between them, one actually gives almost a 2Mb increase over another both for sync and throughput. Because of things like that having something STANDARD to test a modem/router to me seems a bit stupid.

  • over 12 years ago

This sounds like the system BT already have in place. I moved home at the end of last year and had to change to ADSL2+. Initially I had problems and used the ThinkBroadBand speed test site to improve matters, but when I approached my ISP about speed issues they said I had to use the BT test site.
This site reports the actual (all important) IP Profile that the individual ‘phone line is set to, upload and download DSL connection rates and throughput for the particular test. Also these records are retained for future reference, but only one successful test is allowed in any three hour period.

  • Popa_Mintin
  • over 12 years ago

Are you refering to the BT speed test popa_mintin??? and if so how did you get that to work with a non BT based ADSL2+ service, the BT speed test doesnt work for my LLU ADSL2+ connection and it doesnt work for others, infact i dont think it works for any ADSL2+ connection or even any Datastream based connection... Are you sure you have ADSL2+? and if so id be interested to know who are you with.

  • over 12 years ago

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