Broadband Speed Testing

Here in Lincoln Hills our broadband provider is WAVE Broadband. Before we when on a short RV trip our Amazon Echo “Alexa” was having trouble maintaining a connection. We listen to the Flash Briefing in the morning to catch up on the news overnight and the radio in the afternoon, and often ask Alexa for information on issues. Sometimes, Alexa, had trouble connecting, and other times she would link, and then the audio would just stop. Attempts to reconnect would result in a voice message she could not connect.

Earlier this year I had built a broadband speed test box, based on the Raspberry Pi 3, with a 100Mbps either net port using some open source software. I modified the software just to produce a CVS file which could be analyzed and graphed using a Python program I wrote. Before leaving on our RV trip, I set up the box to record the up and download speed every 30 minutes 24/7. On return, I took a look at the file and found the upload speed varied between 0.0 and 1.0 Mbps I executed all the reset procedure recommended by WAVE. Nothing improved.

I called WAVE Support and was connected to a talented, upbeat lady, who took me back to the reset, including removing the battery in the ARRIS Broadband Modem. One of her issues was the network path to the Raspberry Pi; it was through a 1 Gig Switch. WAVE only accepts speed tests directly connected to the Cable Modem, according to the WAVE Tech. I removed the switch from the path, and the results were dramatic, the upload went up to 5 and 6 Mbps, the download stayed about the same, 34-36 Mbps on the Raspberry Pi. I reconnected either net to the switch and results were the same each test showed 5 to 6 Mbps uploads speeds and the download speed about 34 Mbps. I was paying for 100 Mbps. The WAVE Tech recommended a Service Technician take a look at the Modem, and she scheduled a visit.

The WAVE Tech arrived as scheduled later in the week, he removed the Modem and checked the signal strength with his test instrument, and it was good. With a good signal, we connected a laptop directly to the Modem, showing a good up and download speed. We hooked up the network to the Modem and ran some speed test.

On the Raspberry Pi the WAVE Speed Test App showed 36 Mbps down and 3.9 Mbps up. Usable but not the 100 Mbps up I was buying. The Tech suggested I do a desktop speed test on my Mac, connected via WiFi to the network. The result was an impressive 98.1 Mbps, While the Raspberry was showing 35 Mbps using the WAVE bowser based speed test. The application on the desktop was the latest version of the Ookla Speed Test. Something on the Network was slowing down the speed. The Tech recommended replacing all my flat either net cables as they can be noisy, which can slow the signal. I thought we had solved the problem, that is until I looked at the speeds recorded by the Pi box, they were in the 80-90Mbps range?

The mystery is why does the WAVE browser-based speed test show 34-36 Mbps when the internal Raspberry Pi as recording much faster speeds when using the Ookla Speed Test used by the Pi program when on the same network. More investigation required, as time allows. The best part is Alexa is working again, and the WAVE Tech Support was excellent.

Bottom line? Always test network speeds at the modem box, your network could be slowing down the data flow.

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