Tools I Use: to test bandwidth

I work remotely quite often and I am traveling away from home up to 90 days per year.

Whenever I am in a new work environment, whether it is a client’s office, a co-working space, coffee shop or wherever, I test the internet speeds to see what is available. This is better than assuming speeds before I start working.

http://speedtest.net is a free online service that measures the bandwidth (speed) and latency (time delay) of your internet connection.

Using this site is a good practice before using any hardline connection or wifi. This is especially good before a video conference call or uploading some new audio podcast files since both could be taxing on the internet bandwidth available as well as anyone’s level of patience.

Remember the speeds slower than 56k? I do. I also remember transferring digital photos for print publications back to the office on a daily basis via 56k. Not fun. Luckily, those days are over.

I recently went to a co-working space only to find 8 Mbps for upload and download speeds. That sounds reasonable until we factored in all the people who needed to do different video conferencing sessions where a clear video feed was critical to seeing the human-computer interactions (UX) being measured during the interviews.

Most video conferencing I have seen are more talking heads just like newscasts, which provides little to no value and suck up bandwidth for no reason. Unless there is a slide deck to be shared/presented, I commonly shut off the video camera and use ‘audio only’ to get clearer audio, where the value comes from anyhow. I don’t need to see someone to understand them. If they have a thick accent, it is actually easier to understand them by closing your eyes and focus on what is said. Try it and hear it yourself.

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