December 10th, 2009 | Published in Google Public Policy
How are the performance and quality of broadband networks changing over time? How does the service experienced by users on certain networks compare against others?
Today, Measurement Lab (M-Lab) took another step to help answer these types of questions. Two M-Lab researchers have publicly released the results from over 150,000 broadband connection speed and quality tests run by users all over the world. Anyone can use the datasets without restriction, under a "no rights reserved" Creative Commons Zero waiver.
As we've discussed here before, M-Lab is an open server platform for researchers to deploy broadband measurement tools. This project is a collaborative effort led by researchers, with Google and other partners around the world providing additional support.
Thousands of users are now running tests every day on M-Lab, and while only results from two tools – NDT and NPAD – are available right now, all data collected by M-Lab researchers will be released in the near future. Amazon Web Services is providing M-Lab with free data hosting through its Public Data Sets program, and M-Lab would welcome the participation of others who want to host the data and make it easier to access.
The raw data are not yet in a form that's easily intelligible to average users, but since re-use of the data is entirely unrestricted, anyone is free to analyze the information, mash it up with maps, or create other user-friendly reports. In addition, M-Lab requires that tools' source code be open, so that anyone can review, understand, and build upon the testing methodologies. We think this kind of openness is critical to developing robust, reliable broadband measurement.