Ookla buys RootMetrics

There’s more consolidation in the wireless speed-testing space this morning with Ookla announcing that it’s buying RootMetrics. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The two companies are both based in the Seattle area.

The companies handle speed testing differently. Ookla taps crowd-sourced data from customers who use its Speedtest.net portal. And RootMetrics does drive-testing and walk-testing to measure mobile speeds.

Ookla General Manager and Co-founder Doug Suttles said Speedtest garners data from about 600 million unique users throughout the year. And it has a proprietary formula for creating a “SpeedScore” based on download speeds as well as upload speeds, and leaning on median speeds, rather than average speeds.

But recently, Ookla has become interested in data from drive-tests. In July it acquired a drive-testing company called Solutelia. Ookla has trialed its Speedtest technology in Solutelia vehicles. “It’s all about real-time,” said Suttles. “This is designed to livestream everything. We’re trying to get into solving problems in real-time. It’s hard to do with crowd-sourced data."

Ultimately, Ookla wants to combine the drive-testing technology from Solutelia with the tech from RootMetrics.

But for now, Suttles said, “With Root, we’re going to learn from each other. We each have customer relationships. The brands will remain intact; the products will remain intact. We’re going to protect the brands and honor customer relationships. We have a lot of shared clients.”

All of the companies that collect mobile speed test data have sometimes been criticized because they crown different operators with the “fastest speeds” and “most reliable network” and other accolades. It seems that every operator can claim its network is the best in some way.

RELATED: Opensignal gets acquired by Comlinkdata

Recon Analytics analyst Roger Entner has previously pointed out that some of these labels don’t have much meaning. “For example, a lot of speed tests say “T-Mobile is the fastest because of 5G,” said Entner. “OK, but 75% of the usage is in 4G, so does it really matter? It doesn’t matter if you have 500 Mbps when the fastest your phone pulls down is 25 megabits because that’s the speed of 4K video. All the other 475 megabits are wasted.”

Suttles said, “There is a point where it becomes about bragging about what you have. I think this is the year where response and latency become so important.” He noted that more voice calls are going over data, making latency critical.

He said Ookla will have to devise a way to include latency metrics as part of its reporting. While higher numbers are better for speed, lower numbers are better for latency. “Some operators that have been so focused on high throughput may not necessarily have the best latency,” he said.

Consolidation in wireless speed testing

RootMetrics has been owned by IHS Markit, but it’s been running as a standalone business.

Ookla has been owned by parent company Ziff Davis since 2014. “I have a level of autonomy at Ziff Davis, which is very standalone,” said Suttles.

Other competitors in the space include Opensignal and Tutela, which are both owned by Comlinkdata, and umlaut, which is owned by Accenture.