What's up with Measurement Lab

(Editor's note: We're pleased to welcome Sascha Meinrath and Robb Topolski of the Open Technology Initiative (OTI) as guest bloggers. As a part of The New America Foundation, OTI works to support policy and regulatory measures that further open technologies and communications networks.)

Eight months ago, we joined a group of researchers in launching Measurement Lab (M-Lab), an open platform for researchers to deploy Internet measurement tools.

We created M-Lab in order to help measure the actual performance of broadband Internet connections. Is your connection as fast as advertised? Where are the bottlenecks that impact VoIP or video performance? Answers to these sorts of questions will help users to make informed decisions in the market, and help governments around the globe to craft sound broadband policy.

So, how's it doing?

To date, more than 150,000 Internet users from around the world have used M-Lab to test the performance of their broadband connection and share information with researchers.

Now M-Lab is hitting the Mediterranean. We're thrilled to announce that the EETT -- Greece's telecommunications regulator -- and the Greek Research and Technology Network (GRnet) have contributed servers and connectivity for a new M-Lab node in Athens, Greece, and will collaborate with M-Lab to help improve the usability of the platform's tools.

EETT has already been working to provide useful information about broadband networks to consumers, through their central Web portal. EETT plans to incorporate data collected through M-Lab into this map, so that users will be able to compare broadband providers' and their Internet connection's performance across several dimensions.

In addition to EETT and GRnet, Voxel also has joined as an M-Lab partner, providing server nodes and connectivity in New York City and Amsterdam. Since launch, we've added many new servers, for a total of 38 between the U.S. and Europe.

We've also added two new tools, PathLoad2 and ShaperProbe. PathLoad2 allows users to test their available bandwidth (the maximum bit rate you can send to a network link before it gets congested), and ShaperProbe detects whether the ISP reduces the speed of a download or an upload after it begins.

We're happy about M-Lab's successful beginning, but it's only the beginning. The platform and its tools are still very much in beta, and we continue efforts to improve them.

In the coming months we're aiming to make the collected data publicly available and accessible, improve the user experience and stability of our tools, and expand the availability of the site globally. Stay tuned, and in the meantime we hope you'll run an M-Lab test on your own broadband connection.