Determine Your Bandwidth Speed With Mr.T.


“Mr. T1” is a bandwidth meter detector that runs as a standalone, cross-platform (OSX, Linux, Windows) application. The project constantly checks the current speed of the connected network and if it reaches that of a standard T1 line (1.5mbit/sec) or higher then a Mr.T sound sample is triggered in the form of “I Pity The Fool” or one of Mr.T’s other various sayings. The project playfully examines the metaphorical connection between fictional characters from mainstream entertainment media and the naming conventions of modern communication systems such as the Internet.


What is the path of data traveling through telephone lines, networks, electrical outlets and other concealed means? How do we bring this information out of the wires and into our environment? SpeakerPhone attempts to free information from these hidden pathways by liberating the data itself and releasing it into our surroundings.

Screenshot of OSX version


The speed of “shared” telecommunications systems such as public or closed wireless networks is becoming more and more prevalent an issue as more devices begin to rely on these systems for connectivity. Especially in public spaces where policing the use of these networks is becoming difficult as many people are using these networks without any regard for how their use effects the speed and/or connectivity of others connected.


Jonah Brucker-Cohen – (Design/Concept) Thanks to Jeff Crouse.


Open-source Bandwidth Speed-Tracker: The Truth of Connectivity Finally RevealedArt Threat, July 19, 2007

MAKE Blog, July 16, 2007.

CrunchGear, “Pretty Much The Greatest Application Ever”, July 16, 2007.

DIGG, July 16, 2007. Science Buzz,

“Mr.T Tells it Like it is”, July 17, 2007. Nerd Arts, July 17, 2007.

The “Mr. T1” project was created in response to my experience of working in many different lab environments where bandwidth speed has always been an issue concerning researchers and artists using shared Internet resources. The project examines this use and provides a constant sense of “background awareness” as to how fast the current connection is and if this standard is being met. Unlike other ambient network speed detectors such as “PinWheels” or “Live Wire“, “Mr.T1” bases its detection on the exact speed of the connection, not only the frequency or current activity levels of network usage. This ensures that the top speed is being met every time rather than just reflecting general activity.

Download the Mr. T1 Application:

You can download the application here for:

  1. Windows, OSX, and Linux. Mr.T1 V.1.1 (OSX)
  2. Windows: Mr.T1 V.1.1 (Windows XP/Vista/7)


The “Mr. T1” system is an open source application that continually downloads a file from a remote server and calculates the average speed of data returning to the client. It times this connection and measures the data throughput to detect the current speed of the network and then parses the collected speed and compares it to that of a typical T1’s speed. If a speed is detected that reflects that of a T1, the system then plays one of five random samples from Mr.T’s world famous repertoire such as “I Pity The Fool!” or “Don’t Give Me No Backtalk Sucka!“, and more etc… These cues alert the user when they are using a fast network and the test can be run multiple times to ensure that the speed of the network is still responsive when more users are connected. This is particularly important in public spaces that have shared wired or wireless access that many people are using and whose speed can be clogged with bandwidth-intense use such as people downloading large files, etc… With “Mr.T1” they can maintain a steady background monitor to check if the network speed is being maintained to fast enough standards.