Netflix Tool Tests Your Internet Speed

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Can your Internet connection handle a weekend of binge-watching House of Cards? Test it out with Netflix's new speed test tool.

Visit Fast.com to check your mobile or broadband connection speed in real time. The barebones website—which features a logo, number, refresh button, and "Powered By Netflix" tag—uses the company's servers to automatically estimate current download speed. You don't have to be a Netflix member to try it out, and Fast.com works globally on devices like phones, PCs, or smart TVs with browsers.

"Fast.com is a simple-to-use way for consumers to estimate what speed their ISP is providing," the new site says. "It is not a network engineer's analysis and diagnostic suite."

For more detailed information on ping, latency, jitter, and upload speeds, Netflix points users in the direction of speedtest.net, which should provide similar results in most cases.

"We all want a faster, better Internet, yet Internet speeds vary and can be affected by other users on your network or congestion with your Internet service provider," David Fullagar, Netflix's vice president of content delivery architecture, said in a statement.

The company recently introduced a new tool to help consumers control how much data they use when streaming over a cellular network. Streams are capped by default at 600 kilobits per second, or about three hours of viewing per gigabyte of data.

"Fast.com is another tool consumers can use for greater insight and control of their Internet service," Fullagar said.

Fast Internet speed is crucial for Netflix. If your stream buffers or stalls, you can't watch the next episode of Orange is the New Black, and Netflix takes a hit. In recent years, Netflix has reluctantly inked deals with ISPs for a direct connection to their servers in order to speed up your Netflix experience (known as interconnection deals). But Netflix argues these deals are a net neutrality violation and should not be required, prompting the FCC to open an investigation in 2014, and propose a way to file interconnection-related complaints a year later.

Since 2013, Netflix has also offered its monthly ISP Speed Index, which measures average monthly speeds of actual Netflix streams during primetime hours. Fast.com calculates a personal Internet connection at any given time.

For more, see How to Check Your Internet Speed.

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