“Today, people living in Bucharest, Romania have access to much faster Internet than most of the U.S. That’s unacceptable and must change.” So went a tweet from Bernie Sanders, the presidential hopeful, as reported on CNN. Certain Romanians, proud of the average download speed of 95Mbps in Bucharest, saw an unwarranted sense of entitlement from Sanders. Why should Americans feel they deserved better technology than people elsewhere?
Other Romanians were wittier and more creative about it, and the champs might be the creators of a site we’ll call The Bernie Sanders Internet Speed Test. Try it. When I did, the site told me my speed was 44Mbps, or 1.1 times slower than the Bucharest average. Huh? When I measured my speed on my iPad via software the Ookla app, I got the results below:
Yep—174Mbps, with Comcast Blast’s service. Quite a difference from the supposed 44Mbps. What’s going on? Is the Romanians’ speed test really comparing apples and apples? I’m in Alexandria, VA, not that far from Reston, where Ookla did the measurement. Not that much of the Internet is between me and Reston—while goodness-knows-what exists between me and Romania.
I voted for Sanders in the Virginia Democratic Primary and am hardly the biggest fan of Comcast, but if what I suspect is true, the Bernie Sanders Internet Speed Test is about as credible as Donald Trump. Keep in mind that Sanders’ campaigners have nothing to do with the test. I’m still feeling The Bern.
Update, 1:25 p.m., March 5: I got an even better reading for my Comcast account, of nearly 180Mbps, when I used DSL Reports’ test, which relies on multiple ISPs. Here is what DSL Reports says: “This test does not piggy back a CDN (content delivery network) with an impressive list of cities but dodgy geo-location and shared servers. All test servers are dedicated to testing, are monitored, and are capable of multiples of the bandwdth actually required. If the servers get close to any capacity cap then the number of people per minute testing is throttled to keep results clean.” I then used an AT&T server in Mexico, via Ookla’s Speedtest.net, and got a still impressive 127Mbps. My own results from the Sanders site this time around? Somewhere in the neighborhood of 18Mbps, even less than before. Simply put, I’d wonder about the significance of the Sanders’ test if my situation is representative. Over at Reddit, others are asking similar questions.