Is Your ISP Gaming Your Internet Speed Test?

When you run an Internet speed test, you want to know the results reflect an accurate representation of your current streaming capability. Maybe you are trying to watch a 4K video or take part in a graphics-intensive MMORPG? If your ISP knew how to manipulate the test to make your service appear faster than reality, who can you trust?

ISP Gaming speed tests

It was recently discovered that an ISP was inflating speed test results by running the test on Internet port 8080, which is relatively free from traffic compared to ports 80 and 443 used for most Internet traffic. This causes the test results to be inflated by a factor as high as 200 percent. Unfortunately, you are generally unable to use port 8080 for typical Internet activity.

What Internet Speed Tests Should Reveal

Making sure your ISP is providing the service level you pay for remains a major reason for running an Internet speed test. If you subscribe to a 50 Mbps tier, a speed test should verify that fact. In this situation, running a test on port 8080 usually gives an accurate result.

On the other hand, if multiple users are accessing your home Internet simultaneously, this tends to eat up bandwidth, causing buffering when viewing HD video content. If your speed test still returns close the same result, it’s probably due to using port 8080 for the test. That port doesn’t take into account the extra activity all competing for its own slice of bandwidth.

It is important for your speed test to return meaningful results relevant to your current Internet usage patterns. This way you are able to make any changes to your home network to improve performance. Sure, an ISP needs to know they are meeting their end of the bandwidth bargain, but many speed tests don’t take into account the real world situation on your network.

A Useful Internet Speed Test

A truly useful speed test considers all the other activity fighting for bandwidth — either on your home network or when accessing a public WiFi network while on the go. Techniques like testing over port 8080 or using multiple threads during the test only serve to inflate the results and confuse users. While there is some value to know your Internet service reaches 50 Mbps speeds, it doesn’t matter as much if separate devices on your network barely reach 10 Mbps when used simultaneously.

In short, when choosing a speed test during heavy Internet activity, be sure to choose wisely.