Open Internet Measurement

When your Internet connection doesn’t work as expected, how can you tell whether the problem is caused by your connection, the application or something else? Answering this question and others like it is surprisingly difficult. That is where Measurement Lab comes in.

M-Lab is an open source project with contributors from civil society organizations, educational institutions, and private sector companies dedicated to:

  • Providing an open, verifiable measurement platform for global network performance
  • Hosting the largest open Internet performance dataset on the planet
  • Creating visualizations and tools to help people make sense of Internet performance

What is M-Lab’s mission?

M-Lab aims to advance Internet research by empowering consumers with useful information about their Internet performance. By providing free, open Internet measurement data, researchers, regulators, advocacy groups, and the general public can get a better sense of how the Internet is working for them, and how to maintain and improve it for the future.

Why Measurement Lab?

Real science requires verifiable processes, and M-Lab welcomes scientific collaboration and scrutiny. This is why all of the data collected by M-Lab’s global measurement platform is openly available, and all of the measurement tools hosted by M-Lab are open source. Anyone with the time and skill can review and improve the underlying methodologies and assumptions on which M-Lab’s platform, tools, and data rely. Transparency and review are key to good science, and good science is key to good measurement.

An Open Platform for Researchers

M-Lab assists scientific research by providing widely distributed servers and ample connectivity for researchers’ use. Each researcher-developed test is allocated dedicated resources on the M-Lab platform to facilitate accurate measurements. Server-side tools are openly licensed and operated, allowing third parties to develop their own client-side measurement software.

Better Open Data for Everyone

All data collected via M-Lab are made available to the public M-Lab’s historical data archive providers a common pool of historical network measurement information that anyone may use, and is a data source enabling consumers, operators, regulators, researchers, and civil society to understand the state and quality of the Internet.

What is the history of M-Lab?

In 2008, Vint Cerf, one of the “fathers of the Internet,” began a series of conversations with Internet researchers to learn more about challenges they faced while trying to study Internet performance. Researchers identified several problems, including a lack of widely deployed servers with ample connectivity to support Internet measurement experiments. They also reported an inability to share large data sets with one another easily.

There also was no public resource that could provide combined performance data to policymakers or to consumers interested in understanding their Internet performance over time. As a result of these conversations, M-Lab was founded to help address the core problems experienced by researchers and to promote large-scale open source measurement of the Internet.

M-Lab was founded in 2009 by New America’s Open Technology Institute, the PlanetLab Consortium, Google, and a group of academic researchers.

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