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New online speed test will ‘close the reality gap’

A new open source project to develop the new broadband speed test that will deliver more accurate results for a vastly improved broadband user experience has been launched by Broadband Forum.

Described as a game-changer for broadband measurements, the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) Speed Test will quantify and verify ‘ultra-fast’ broadband, using updated methods and metrics which are more suited to the gigabit services now being deployed. UDP is a communication protocol used across the Internet for especially time-sensitive transmissions, such as video playback, and is increasingly being used in new transports, such as QUIC.

The speed test’s adoption will be fostered through an open source implementation, with the base running code provided by a leading US network operator, AT&T. Several major international and US operators are also already signed up and backing the project.

“Broadband quality of experience (QoE) was already important to consumers even before COVID-19, but since the crisis the consumer’s understanding of QoE has risen to new levels – especially when the service isn’t meeting their expectations,” said Michael Philpott, Research Director, Service Provider – Consumer at Omdia. “Network metrics such as speed, latency and jitter are critical to delivering a good broadband experience and service providers must invest to make sure they are meeting all of these criteria if they are to supply the services of the future.”

Providing an open source, standards-based implementation, the new test has been launched in response to the growing Fiber-to-the-Premises (FTTP) deployments. This new tool will enable the replacement of many existing test tools, some running over TCP (Transmission Control Protocol).

In regard to these gigabit services, TCP-based testing becomes less accurate the higher the access speed, especially when testing over 500 Mbps. This has resulted in a gap between actual service rates and TCP’s estimates. At the same time, service providers are facing increasing regulatory demands to provide consumers with efficient demonstration of their maximum subscribed speeds.

Broadband Forum’s new open source test tooling will introduce a UDP-based IP Capacity metric and related measurement methods to provide a more precise and consistent understanding of network performance.

The new metrics and methods of measurement also reflect changing trends to test networks in instances where lower latency is just as critical as speed, such as applications with growing user uptake such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR), UHD streaming and gaming. 

“User experience is at the core of any service provider’s offering, and today’s consumers expect their broadband service to deliver speed, low latency and seamlessness,” said Robin Mersh, CEO at Broadband Forum. “A benefit to both providers and consumers, the UDP Speed Test is a game-changer, providing a criterion to ensure next-generation networks meet industry-wide expectations and can deliver the connected services we consume every day.”

The metrics and measurements performed by the UDP Speed Test are defined in Broadband Forum’s IP Layer Capacity Metrics and Measurement (TR-471) specification. For more information on the motivation of the new UDP Speed test and the issues with TCP in measuring connectivity at 1 Gbps and above, see:

In addition to IP Layer Capacity Metrics and Measurement, Broadband Forum currently has a number of other ongoing initiatives addressing testing, measurement and analysis of quality of service and user experience in their Performance, Experience, and Application Testing (PEAT) Project Stream. To find out more about Broadband Forum and its ongoing work, visit:

Broadband Forum will be hosting a webinar on ‘Guaranteeing Broadband Service Quality with New IP Capacity Measurements’ on Wednesday, October 21 at 8am Pacific Time. Register here:

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