We frequently talk about bandwidth and broadband speeds. I've been asked how you know just how much bandwidth you're getting from your provider, especially as opposed to what they're telling you.
The answer is, you run a speed test. There are several out there. But I'd like to call your attention to this one because it's being conducted by the FCC. The data may go into the National Broadband plan.
You do need to have Java running on the computer you're testing.
If you want to share your results and see what other libraries are getting, you can enter comments to the post.
Montana is running its own speed test for broadband mapping. You probably want to participate in this one as well.
I've been asked by several people whether or not they should be concerned if they get different results from different tests. I don't think you should be concerned. Your speed can be greatly influenced by what tasks are being done by others on your network at the time the test is taken. As an example, I ran a speed test while I was downloading 2 200 MB podcasts. I got 3.44 Mbps. I ran the test again right after the podcasts had downloaded and got 5.1 Mbps. Audio or video downloads, streaming video, online games can all greatly affect your speed.