Figure 1 shows how your typical available bandwidth varies over a given time interval.
SchoolSpeedTest measures your available bandwidth at the time you take the test. We do this by transferring a file from our servers to your device and measuring the time it takes. This is illustrated in Figure 2 by the shaded area A. From this we calculate your average available bandwidth as expressed in megabits per second. This number represents how much data you can receive from the Internet in one second.
Other speed tests use a different method to calculate your bandwidth. They take multiple, much smaller samples over a given time period as shown in Figure 3 and represented by area B1 - B12. In order to minimize the impact of other network users on your results, many popular test sites discard the slowest 30% and fastest 10% of these samples in calculating their speed results. They then use the remaining samples to calculate an average speed.
In a digital learning environment much of the bandwidth usage is based on video. Unlike other forms of Internet usage, video requires continuous streams of bandwidth for the user to have a good experience. As shown in Figure 4, for the given time interval T, the first video user will have a high quality, uninterrupted experience as they will be using the available bandwidth represented by area V1. The second simultaneous video user during this time interval can also have a good experience as there is sufficient continuous bandwidth as shown by area V2. The third simultaneous video user, represented by area V3, will have a few interruptions to their available bandwidth. This will degrade the video quality for user three. As you can see in this illustration, the video experience will continue to degrade when more simultaneous users are added during this time interval and may be unusable by the 8th simultaneous video user.
The SchoolSpeedTest method was specifically designed to provide a representation of what a teacher can actually do at a given time in his/her environment. Because video is a critical component in a typical digital learning environment, the SchoolSpeedTest method provides a closer approximation of the amount of continuous bandwidth available to support video than other speed tests. In contrast, while other speed tests may report a higher bandwidth speed, their methodology is less reflective of the actual capacity available for digital learning.