How reliable is your Internet Connection?

Written by David Krinker
August 16, 2018

In a smart home, the reliability and quality of service offered by your Internet service provider is vitally important.  This is especially true with multi-room audio systems, like the musicBox 6 multi-room audio system, and with the growing popularity of Internet based music streaming services, like Spotify.

But how do you know whether you have reliable Internet service?

In the latest version of the musicBox 6 multi-room audio software, we have integrated support for monitoring the availability and performance of your Internet service.  The musicBox implements a common network troubleshooting tool called PING.

Wikipedia defines PING as:

ping is a computer network administration software utility used to test the reachability of a host on an Internet Protocol (IP) network. It measures the round-trip time for messages sent from the originating host to a destination computer that are echoed back to the source. The name comes from active sonar terminology that sends a pulse of sound and listens for the echo to detect objects underwater ...

The musicBox Internet Monitoring service is a lightweight service which periodically (by default every second) PINGs well known DNS (Internet) servers to verify the Internet is accessible.

If the service fails to successfully PING a DNS server after 10 attempts (approximately 10 seconds), the musicBox displays a warning message to the user.  The message warns the user they are experiencing intermittent Internet access which could affect listening to their music.  When the service fails to successfully PING a DNS server 10 or more times in a row, we call this an Internet Outage.  Music playback is susceptible to Internet outages because the musicBox typically only caches (or pre-fetches) about 10 seconds worth of music.

You can configure and view the Internet Monitoring settings and information using the musicBox 6 multi-room audio App.

musicBox 6 multi-room audio Internet Monitoring tool
Figure 1 - Internet Monitoring Settings in the musicBox 6

Figure 1 shows the Internet Monitoring page in the iOS App. There are two switches available. The first, allows you to turn Internet Monitoring on or off, and the second to turn Internet Outage Notifications on or off.

When Internet Monitoring is enabled, the Internet Monitoring page displays:

  1. Internet Availability (%) - Is presented as a percentage of the PINGs that completed successfully divided by the total number of PING attempts.  The detail line (in blue) shows the number of PINGs that failed / total number of PINGs attempts.
  2. Internet Performance (in milliseconds) - This is the average round trip time for all successful PING requests, and ideally should be less than 40ms.
  3. Internet Outages - This is the total number of Internet Outages detected since the musicBox 6 last started.  If there were any outages, and you select this item, it will display information on the last 20 outages you experienced (as shown in Figure 2), including the exact times the outage occurred and for how long each outage lasted.
musicBox 6 multi-room audio Internet Outages page
Figure 2 - musicBox 6 displays any Internet outages and their duration

Use this tool to monitor your Internet and you will know "How reliable is your Internet Connection?"