Surfing the Internet in China slower on Sundays

Browsing websites is often a slow and frustrating experience in China. Apart from blocking over 2600 websites and searches, the Great Firewall also imposes a serious bottleneck on speed. There have been rumors that the Internet is especially slow on Sundays. Analyzing more than 80,000 tests executed by our system from March to November this year, our data seems to confirm this suspicion.

The tests consist of downloading the front page of each of the world's 500 most popular websites, as defined by Alexa. Apart from aberrations in March and June, download speeds on Sundays have consistently been between 8 and 25% slower than the average of the other days of the week. Here's the full test data summary (all speeds in bytes/second):

MonthMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturdaySundaySunday relative to other daysNumber of tests
Mar, 201122,89823,00726,17825,56025,35623,96827,35312%11,032
Apr, 201130,36533,64029,14133,20632,96929,68927,953-11%17,775
May, 201132,69128,67636,20130,09229,45529,13025,814-17%5,889
Jun, 201121,66332,22730,50729,73628,43428,37728,8121%5,946
Jul, 201117,71928,35224,86820,98721,95522,25017,089-25%7,621
Aug, 201122,46021,47221,51620,85923,23520,24119,980-8%12,499
Sep, 201124,48522,97821,82422,17222,34519,04517,906-19%12,671
Oct, 201125,36921,41423,17222,82722,89222,57218,473-20%14,213
Nov, 201127,00024,04428,63825,64024,91025,80923,984-8%9,233
AVERAGE24,96126,20126,89425,67625,72824,56523,040-10% 

One theory why the internet would be even more restricted on Sundays is that this was the weekday chosen for the attempted Jasmine protests earlier this year. Another theory could point to Sunday being a prime day for internet users across the country to download music and movie files or to consume online media, which would explain why Saturday is the second slowest day of the week. Also, the authorities might prioritize speed on weekdays in order to allow companies somewhat better Internet access.

It is also important to note that the internet has been getting slower compared to speeds earlier this year.

Have you also experienced the slow Sunday phenomenon? Please add your comments below.

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中美互联网论坛回信

你们的公司有责任尊重人权,防止您的业务被侵犯。我们知道,中国是你们公司的一个重要市场,但恳请您在美国促进和保护人权的同时,也同样在中国致力于此。习主席的访问和美中互联网产业论坛是一个理想的机会,明确表示你的公司将会捍卫隐私权,反对成为监控同谋,将它们的强大在中国和美国一视同仁。
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Comments

I'm wondering whether you have any data on whether it has become slower to access Chinese websites from outside of China over the past year or so. I live outside of China and it has become painfully slow for me to stream videos from Chinese video-sharing sites like Tudou and Youku. Even sites like Baidu Baike and Baidu Tieba, which are mostly text with images, have become somewhat laggy. I've been wondering whether the problem lies on my end (e.g. with my ISP) or if it's part of a wider pattern.

Hi Blaise. The GFW works both ways. Accessing Chinese websites from abroad is artificially slow, just as accessing foreign websites from China is. Exactly how much slower I can't say. But we do have the data, since all URLs tested by our system are tested both from China and from the US. So it's just a matter of collecting it and creating a graph. On the to-do list. Great question!

Thanks for the reply! That's interesting to hear.

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