Ookla, makers of the original Speedtest.net website and the subsequent mobile and desktop applications for testing bandwidth, has now introduced a VPN service. Called Speedtest VPN, the service is currently in beta and being offered as part of the Speedtest app on iOS and Android.
Speedtest VPN works pretty much the same way most VPN apps work on these platforms. You press a button and the OS will prompt you to add the VPN to your device, and then you’re off to the races. All the traffic on your device will now be routed through Speedtest VPN servers, which will reduce your speed but offers the advantage of obfuscating the data from your ISP and also providing access to blocked websites.
In its current beta phase, the service is being offered for free from within the Speedtest app. Ookla has confirmed that it has plans to offer paid tiers in future when the service leaves beta phase. However, users will continue to be offered 2GB of free data every month even if they don’t subscribe to the paid plans.
As with every VPN service, there are security implications one must consider. It goes without saying that the service you are routing ALL your data through is trustworthy and offers some basic security features expected of a good VPN. One must be particularly vigilant when the service is being offered for free, as having the server and bandwidth capacity for a VPN is not at all cheap and any company offering it must have a business model in place.
For its part, Ookla claims that Speedtest VPN is a zero log service, which means it keeps no record of who uses the service and for what purpose, thereby making it impossible for people within the company and external agents like the government to access this information. However, we don’t know other details such as the jurisdiction where the service is based, the level of encryption offered, level of obfuscation, company policies and more. Someone like That One Privacy Site will need to look into the service for a more unbiased and detailed look.
We will always recommend considering all these factors before you try a new VPN service, especially on phones, which contain a lot more of our data these days. Even for casual use, we wouldn’t recommend using just any service without fully exploring its security implications.