Before You Begin
    • 31 May 2023
    • 5 Minutes to read
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    Before You Begin

    • Dark
    • PDF

    Article summary

    Before you begin your network test, let's go over key points such as important terms. and browser viability. 

    Supported Browsers

    This test is designed to run in these browsers:

    • icon_chrome_16x16.png Chrome
    • icon_edge_16x16.png Microsoft Edge (Chromium only, not classic Edge)
    • icon_firefox_16x16.png Firefox
    • icon_safari_16x16.png Safari

    The test should not be run from ChromeOS (Chromebooks) or mobile browsers. There is no mobile app version of the test at this time, however, using a computer’s WiFi connection to run the test when there are mobile VoIP users (with HD Calling enabled) can work as a proxy for the mobile device. We are exploring testing methods for Chromebooks and mobile devices.

    Terms Used in this Article

    These terms are organized in order of use within the network assessment test results pages. Additional vocabulary is listed in our Network Terms article.

    Bandwidth: The volume of data that passes through a network over a given period of time measured as megabits per second (Mbps). ISPs provide the maximum allowed bandwidth, and our tool measures the effective bandwidth.

    Effective bandwidth: The measure of the real volume of data that passes through a network for a given period of time.

    In the example of a car on a road, there is the posted maximum speed and there is the speed that traffic is actually moving due to traffic, weather, and road quality. In networking, we use the term “effective bandwidth” to describe the rate at which traffic is actually flowing. ISPs always quote the speed limit, the maximum bandwidth they allow, and our tools measure the effective bandwidth during the test session.

    Latency: The length of time it takes for data to get from one device to another over one or more connected networks.

    Speed: The subjective evaluation of the effects of bandwidth and latency, ie: How fast a connection feels. A fast network experiencing long delays in travel times (latency) might feel slow, even if the bandwidth available is very high.

    Endpoint: The devices at the ends of a traffic route, such as two computers or a computer and a meeting server talking to each other over one or more networks. Our testing uses your device as one endpoint and the testing server as the other endpoint.

    Capacity: The evaluation of network performance between two endpoints. Capacity takes into account bandwidth, latency, and changes in network behaviors over time.

    Route: The path from one endpoint to each network device along the path to the destination endpoint.

    Firewall: A hardware or software tool that restricts access to internal and external connections for network security and reliability. It’s common for some devices on the network to have their own firewalls, too, which can provide additional security.

    Port: In terms of firewalls, ports are virtual connection points that can be set to allow or block traffic between networks. Firewall rules decide which ports can be allowed or restricted for specific uses or blocked.

    Jitter: A metric indicating the consistency of connectivity over time, counted as variance from the mean connectivity. If jitter is 5ms or lower, it’s generally good. A little change in the rate of connections is normal, but when the delay gets above 5ms, it leads to broken audio during calls.

    MOS: The mean opinion score (MOS) is a number value result that is intended to give a high-level estimate of perceived quality for VoIP traffic during the test. It is derived from a formula that balances the results of all features of the test suite against quality metrics. The score can range from a low of 1.0 to a perfect score of 5.0, with a MOS of 4 generally regarded as good for VoIP calls.

    Connection Types

    When referencing connection types, there are two standard options;

    1. WiFi
    2. Ethernet 

    WiFi is inherently less consistent than an Ethernet connection.

    You'll want to test your network using the connection type you use most frequently.  If you're normally connected via WiFi, then use WiFi to start the test.

    It is often easy to test the network connection later via Ethernet, if needed.

    Network Types

    Workplace Network and Home Network. 

    A workplace network is typically configured for the specific kinds of equipment and software needs of the network, including planning for VoIP and video conferencing traffic. Most workplace networks have equipment designed to serve more devices and have features that allow discrete control over functions in the workplace network. Common features of workplace settings:

    • Balancing infrastructure ensuring current capacity is sufficient, including that there are enough WiFi access points and network drops to cover all devices and reduce dead zones.
    • Traffic segmentation and priorities set to meet business needs, including for VoIP traffic and video conferencing.
    • Specialized network security rules and tools that protect the infrastructure from harm.
    • Restricted access by remote workers connecting to the office network resources.

    A home network is typically constructed of ISP-provided equipment that meets the broadest range of uses at a low price-point for the provider. Their devices tend to have default configurations that may require adjusting to help make VoIP and video conferencing traffic work correctly. Common features of home networks include:

    • All traffic passes through the same network device. It can be pretty easy for a few people with all their devices running to overwhelm a network with a weak device and a slow connection to the ISP.
    • Low-latency low-volume traffic like for video gaming and high-latency high-volume traffic like streaming video compete for limited bandwidth over the same wires and airwaves. Devices on WiFi are in direct competition for traffic attention in the network, and appliances like microwaves can destroy WiFi traffic in the instant they’re running.
    • Customizing the configuration to work with the requirements of a work VPN and VoIP or video conferencing services can be more challenging with ISP equipment that is too restrictive.
    • WiFi access points may be in one corner of the house, the most convenient for the ISP provider’s connection to the home unit, instead of being located central to where all the people and devices are.
    • A home network might work well for one person on a video call, but crumble when two people try to be on calls at the same time.

    Network Setups

    Network setups are configured as Standard or Bridged. 

    A standard network is where all devices are connected directly to the same network as all other devices, and all can communicate with each other. These are typical configurations for home networks and small office or single-building workplace networks.

    A bridged network is when two or more individual networks are connected to a device that links the networks together. This device, called a bridge, manages communication between networks, and between the individual networks and the internet.

    Ready to test?

    Now that you have a better understanding of the process, it's time to run the test.
    Begin the test

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