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April 29, 2004

Bandwidth Simulator for Streaming Media Testing

How do you effectively test the way streaming media sites will appear to people on modems, DSL, cable and other varied Internet connections?  My piece, A Bandwidth Simulator for Testing Streaming Media addresses this, and elicited this comment from a reader:

While netlimiter looks like an interesting tool, I find it easy to test the various stream rates of Real and Windows Media multibit rate streams by changing the connection settings in Real or Windows Media Player. For RealOne Player Tools>Preferences>Connection and for Windows Media Player 9 Tools>Options>Performance. From what I've experienced, adjusting the settings does a pretty good job of simulating low-bandwidth connections.

This is a useful way to test the low-bandwidth content itself, but it isn't really limiting bandwidth - it's just a simulation.  Instead, Netlimiter tests the ability of the entire Web environment -- which includes the browser, the media player, the media server, and any code you have running in any of those places -- to adapt to actual (not simulated) changing bandwidth at the "last mile".  It's not as good a test as actually dialing up with AOL from somewhere where touch-tone phones are still a novelty - but it's a more accurate simulation than using media player preferences.

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