Broadband data maps, brought to you by M-Lab

In 2009 we helped a group of researchers and industry partners launch Measurement Lab (M-Lab), an open platform for broadband measurement tools. Over the past two years, M-Lab has grown significantly – more than 300 terabytes of data from over half a billion tests are now publicly available.

M-Lab tools help an individual understand the performance of one’s own broadband connection, but making sense of that much data in the aggregate is more complicated. That’s why we’re happy to announce that, working with M-Lab, we have developed a set of maps to help investigate such a huge dataset using Google’s Public Data Explorer.

The visualizations show measured median upload and download speeds as measured by M-Lab tools across the United States, Europe, and Australia, and you can drill down to city-level aggregates. You can also view to what extent speeds are limited by problems with users’ network connections or with their computers (or other devices).

The maps are built entirely on open data collected by Network Diagnostic Tool (NDT), an open source tool developed by Internet2 and widely deployed. The platform, the tool, and the data are all open – which means the Internet community can vet the measurement methodology, perform independent analysis of the same data, and build their own visualizations. In fact, the M-Lab data provide much more information that what’s presented in these visualizations, and we hope that our effort will help drive future research in this area.

On Wednesday, the Open Technology Initiative will be hosting a panel discussion on M-Lab in Washington, D.C. In a keynote, Vint Cerf will explain how M-Lab is helping analyze broadband performance and promote good science. For those who can’t attend in person, the event will be live-streamed via the web, starting at 10:30am, EST.

Update (3/23/11): Check out video of the event, below.