A fellow forum user, Sunblock, of Xtremeplace.com wrote a post asking about FTP performance with broadband internet fibre plans compared with his existing Starhub Cable 100Mbps plan. I thought that it would be interesting to do a realistic comparison, so I offered to set up a server to allow us to run some performance tests.
I’m on Starhub’s Maxinfinity 100Mbps fibre plan which I find to be quite fast and reliable. I asked for other users who are on M1 or Singtel to join our testing session and received one reply for each service. I also asked a couple of people who were on Starhub’s Maxonline cable plan to run some tests too.
The main objective was to determine the advantage of one plan over another for FTP usage from Singapore to the USA. The easiest and cheapest way I know to get a server in the USA is to use Amazon Web Services (AWS), so I set up a “small” instance running Amazon Linux in the US West region.
After logging on to the server I ran a system update to make sure everything was up to date. I also installed Apache and vsftpd for HTTP and standard FTP testing. A 100MB file was uploaded to the server and placed in the correct directories for HTTP, FTP and SFTP testing.
Finally, I distributed the key files to the testers to enable SSH and SFTP connections.
1. Download 100 MB file via SFTP.
2. Download 100 MB file via FTP.
3. Download 100 MB file via a web browser (HTTP).
|Starhub 100Mbps Cable
|Starhub 100Mbps Fibre
|M1 50Mbps Fibre
||70 KB/s – 1.4 MB/s
|Singtel 200Mbps Fibre
|Starhub 100Mbps Cable
Note: The upload speed via SFTP was 254 KB/s from my home PC running Filezilla. FTP tests were added at a later time, so only two people completed them.
Running through the results:
Sunblock’s 100Mbps Maxonline Cable plan offers consistent SFTP and FTP performance, but the HTTP performance is simply shocking.
My own Starhub Maxinfinity fibre plan offers consistent SFTP and FTP performance, but screams along for HTTP. In fact the 2.50 MB/s was a one off and all the other tests were in the 6 MB/s range. I thought that this could be due to some local caching, but then surely the cable plans would also get this benefit.
The M1 fibre plan has the slowest SFTP performance and can get up to reasonable HTTP speeds, but seems rather inconsistent.
Singtel’s 200Mbps fibre plan offers the best SFTP performance amongst the local providers, but it’s still not fantastic. The HTTP performance is poor in comparison with the other fibre plans.
To confirm Starhub’s abysmal HTTP performance on its cable plans I contacted two other people who both averaged 50-70 KB/s.
My AWS server in Singapore (micro instance), returned a healthy SFTP result, but couldn’t match my own HTTP performance on Starhub’s fibre plan which I was quite surprised at.
Given the huge difference between the SFTP result on my AWS server in Singapore and all other tests I am guessing that the local ISPs are engaging in network shaping for both SFTP and FTP. This is also reinforced from running the SFTP test repeatedly and seeing close to 300 KB/s each time on my own computer.
HTTP performance on the other hand shows dramatic differences across technologies and providers. Starhub’s cable plans have terrible HTTP performance, while their fibre plan is great. Singtel’s performance was particularly disappointing, especially given it is from a 200 Mbps plan.
In the end there doesn’t seem to be much point for Sunblock to move to a fibre based plan from any of the local providers. His cable plan performs within the same range or better than the fibre plans for FTP, which is his main concern.