Fast.com is a single-purpose tool from Netflix that tells you the real-time download speeds on your current internet connection. That’s all it does, but it makes checking your speeds very easy.
Broadband speed tests are nothing new, and results do vary. Fast does give the option to compare results against Ookla’s Speedtest. We did just that on a variety of connections. By varying degrees, Netflix’s tool sometimes showed slower download speeds; sometimes the tool displayed slightly faster speeds. According to the site’s FAQ, Fast calculates speeds by performing “a series of downloads from Netflix servers,” though you don’t need to sign into Netflix to use it. It also works on desktop as well as mobile. At the end of the FAQ, Netflix implores users to “ask your ISP about the results” if your speeds are lower than what you’re paying for. And you definitely should. If you complain enough, you might be able to get a lower price.
The new Fast.com tool isn’t exactly charity for empowering those of us dealing with garbage ISPs. Netflix has been publicly shaming, getting into scuffles with, and cutting deals with ISPs (and then regretting those deals) for years. It was also discovered to be intentionally hobbling mobile video speeds. Netflix apparently wants users to back up its claims that ISPs are screwing them over. Nevertheless, it’s not exactly clear if the result of making an easy speed test will accomplish anything more than a PR bump for Netflix and generally fomenting general discontent towards ISPs. Fast.com is pretty slick, though!