We are currently in the midst of a technological boom the likes of which has yet to be seen in our lifetimes. With the unprecedented growth of IP-enabled devices, smart phones, Netflix, and internet-based services such as Uber, it seems like there is some kind of new IP-based service or product introduced to the market every week.
What has truly jump-started the popularity of these new technologies with consumers is the widespread delivery of big-pipe, “broadband” high-speed internet services from Internet Service Provider (ISP) companies. After all, an IP-based service does no one any good if their internet connection doesn’t have the bandwidth to deliver it.
The primary way that cable and telco ISPs are boosting the bandwidth they deliver to end-users is by using a hybrid fiber/copper network. This has been accomplished by laying singlemode fiber optic cable throughout most neighborhoods and service areas because singlemode fiber optic cable has the highest bandwidth capacity of any cable. The high-bandwidth data streams from the singlemode cables are converted into electrical data communications at a local switching point. This allows internet communications to then be carried to homes and businesses via existing coax by cable companies and telephone wires by telcos.
The upside of this technology for the cable and telco companies is that they can continue to use their existing coax or telephone line cable plants. However, some of these types of broadband communications seem to come with a cost in terms of increased data packet loss.
When performing an installation, it is important, more than ever, to test your customers’ Internet connections for packet loss before connecting IP-enabled security devices that are intended to be accessible over the internet.
Here’s how to do it:
- Use one of the customer’s PCs that is connected to their LAN and the internet. This test most likely will not work with a mobile device.
- Open an internet browser window and navigate to this address: http://myspeed.visualware.com/ (Note: You may be prompted to “activate Java” on the testing PC for this website to function.)
- Select the country and state that you are in, or the geographically closest ones that are available.
- At this point the test site will ask you to select a test type. Choose “Speed.”
- The next screen will list nearby cities. Select the one you are geographically closest to.
- After you fire off the test you will get results such as seen below:
If the test of the customer’s ISP internet connection indicates packet loss greater than 20% the customer should contact their ISP to see if this performance factor can be improved. Packet loss at this rate will likely cause spotty and sporadic functionality of IP video and other security devices when being viewed or manipulated over the Internet.
There are a number of no-cost websites that provide an Internet “speed” test similar to the “MySpeed” program detailed above. However, for these purposes we used the “MySpeed” test because it provides packet loss data, while other sites only provide “upload” and “download” speed results.
Remember that this test must be done from within the customer’s LAN. If salespeople are providing devices with remote IP connectivity they should perform this test during their sales call to ensure that the devices will have an Internet connection that has adequate performance capabilities.