Internet users in China often turn to speedtest to understand how to improve their network performance. However, even the most popular speedtest vendors, such as Ookla Speedtest, offer only limited technical guidance for China users, as the latency issues simply do not exist in the rest of the world's internet.
Furthermore, ISPs themselves are guilty of poor behavior with speedtests, and have been known to falsly manipulate speedtests results, even among well-known U.S. internet providers!
In this article, we review how to correctly run a speedtest, what maximum speeds are possible in China, and what tools you can use to accurately diagnose your home internet connection.
Example of a high quality speedtest for China
How to correctly run a speedtest in China
Diagnosing most home internet connection speeds is a simple three-stop process:
Step 1: Identify your internet plan
Starting up a new internet line? Taking over an account from your landlord? The very first step is to figure out what speeds you've paid for, and how much internet you can receive. Fortunately, China Telecom can identify your plan speed and subscription details by simply visiting a website!
Note: the english version is not compatible with all browsers, so we've included the Chinese link as well:
Based on these results, my speed plan is 200Mbps download, and 20Mbps for uploads.
Step 2: Test your speed to a China server
The goal of a local speedtest to a China server is to confirm everything is working correctly, and to see if you can acheive the speeds that you are paying for.
Running a speedtest is easy!
To run a China-based speedtest, just click on the same website above and follow the wizard to test your local internet speed. Because China Telecom's servers are located in China, your results should give your maximum possible line speed direct from the source - ideally 200Mbps for most users.
Not getting your advertised speed? Here are a few possible reasons...
Multiple factors can impact your speed, including the router, cables, adapters, even the wiring of the home itself! We'll address several of these issues in a future article, but for now, the best practice is to make sure and use a wired ethernet connection, which will avoid the typical speed penalty for most wifi connections.
In rare cases, the ISP may falsely manipulate your test results!
Yes, internet fraud by ISPs actually exists! Multiple documented cases in the U.S. show that ISPs artifically increase their internal network controls to prioritize requests to speedtest.net and other testing sites. If you think this is happening to you, one solution is to run a old-school speedtest - meaning using the command-line to download a file from a random server, and calculate how long it takes. It's not as user-friendly as Ookla's jazzy interface, but it gets the same job done.
Not getting your full internet speed? See our article on the top 10 home internet setup mistakes for China Users (Coming Soon)!
Step 3: Test your speed to a foreign server
Finally, we get to the most critical aspect of the speedtests in China - the connection speed to overseas websites. The most important consideration for an accurate speedtest is to select the appropriate speedtest country location, followed by the selection of the ISP speedtest provider.
Act quickly before the default settings take over - usually within just five seconds
We can't emphasize this fact enough, as when you run a speedtest using a China-based server, you are only testing ONLY to China-based websites. If you want to improve your connections to overseas websites, you need to select an overseas destination, typically Los Angeles or wherever the pages you visit the most are hosted.
For most people, the maximum speed to overseas websites is significantly less than your China connection (e.g. 30Mbps on a 500Mbps connection). This speed goes down to ~1Mbps if use any additional networking software.
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