Why do I need to test my internet connection consistency?
Microsoft Lync uses your internet connection to provide real-time communications, including voice and video calls, Lync Meetings, presence and instant messaging.
When discussing Internet connectivity problems, the most frequent complaint is about speed or the lack of it. End-users relay the same message over and over again, and quite frequently users with Internet service problems are quick to defend their choice of service provider with statements like “But I have a 5 Mbps or a 10 Mbps connection so I shouldn't have jerky video” or “But the speed tester I use says I can run 9 VoIP lines, so why are my VoIP calls often garbled?”
Although speed is frequently the prime criteria when selecting an Internet service provider, consistency of service is equally (if not more) important to the user experience.
Speed versus consistency is a crucial issue for measuring bandwidth performance. An example of speed without consistency would be like driving a Ferrari during the heavily congested rush hour — while the capability of high speed exists, the speed is not realized due to other factors.
We all drive on highways and through experience we know only too well that our journey time will not be governed by the maximum speed of our car or the maximum speed of the highway. In reality it will be governed by the many different events that occur on our journey such as weather, congestion, accident backup or highway construction.
Running a speed test that shows a slow throughput without consideration of the event information to help the ISP to identify and resolve inherent performance issues has absolutely no value. Only through careful measurement of every aspect of the end-to-end journey can a speed test really start to benefit the user, and more importantly benefit the service provider by providing the information needed to identify the problem.
In the Internet world there are many different issues that affect how our applications perform. When performance is as we expect we are content, when it is not we get frustrated. Understanding the events that impact your Internet connection along with the consistency of service delivered for your applications is vitally important for the problems to be resolved. In our highway example, if the consistency of the highway service was to be measured by its users, it would be a measure of the highway’s ability to deliver you to your destination in a time that closely matches the time it would take if you were able to sustain the maximum allowed speed.
The key to success of an Internet connection is a combination of a good speed with a good consistency of service. In fact, it is likely preferable to have a slower 3 Mbps (Megabits per second) connection with a 99% consistency of service rather than a 6 Mbps connection with a 50% consistency of service. Both will achieve about the same throughput overall, however the delays inherent in the packet flow that result in a lower consistency of service will adversely impact time-dependant applications such as VoIP, video or MP3.
In short, knowing the speed of a connection is only a small part of the picture, and does nothing to identify a connection performance problem. The larger part of the picture is the consistency of the data flow — connections with wide variations in speeds or large gaps between data transfers will cause applications like VoIP and video to perform poorly. To truly understand connection performance, good or bad, it is essential to measure the consistency.
Visualware provides a test tool that can be run from a web browser that measures both speed and consistency of an internet connection and provides an analysis of any issues that it finds.
Testing your internet connection
- Open a web browser and navigate to http://myspeed.visualware.com.
- Choose North America
- Choose the USA: Seattle,WA location
- Select the Quality Test
- Click on the Click to Start Test button to begin the test
- Once the test has completed, you will be provided with the test results. The following tabs have information that will be pertinent to the Lync service:
- Summary Tab - This tab will show the download speed, upload speed and Consistency of Service measurements.
- Advanced Tab - This tab will show the detailed description of the tests.
Analyzing the test results
The results of the above test can be used to identify areas that may need to be addressed prior to launching the Lync service. The single biggest correlation to voice quality in the Lync product is the Consistency of Service measurement from the Summary Tab, a Consistency of Service measurement above 75% (preferably in the 80% to 90% range) should produce a good voice quality experience.
To see additional information on the Consistency of Service measurement:
- From the Summary tab, click on the Consistency of Service link.
- From the Speed tab, click on the Further Analysis link.
- You will be presented with additional information regarding the specific issues that were discovered by the test. A sample report is shown below.
To export the results for analysis:
- From the Advanced tab, click on the View text link
- The resulting text can be copy/pasted into a document and provided to your ISP for review if needed. A sample report is shown below.
NOTE: These test results can be affected by more than just internet speed. Switch capacity, cabling, signal strength as well as a number of other factors can have an impact on these results. We recommend that tests are run from several different computers and locations to better identify any potential issues. This can also be used as a troubleshooting tool in the event a single location is having issues with voice quality.