New Tools to Measure Home Broadband Connections Now Available

Broadband's Impact July 20th, 2011

, Reporter, BroadbandBreakfast.com

WASHINGTON, July 20, 2011 – Consumers now have a new way to capture and record actual data about the speeds and quality of their broadband service.

Representatives from New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative (OTI), Google and Georgia Institute of Technology proclaimed the arrival Tuesday of Broadband Internet Service BenchMark (BISMark).  BISMark is a project of M-Lab, a private sector-academia open-source technology collaboration. The technology uses consumer grade commercial wireless routers to capture data on a user’s broadband speed, and makes it available in the public domain for the user to analyze. Users can apply for a router through a link on ProjectBismark.com.

“With BISMark, users can expect continuous network measurements of their ISP performance, and very soon, a web page they can go to to explore these measurements,” said Nick Feamster, Associate Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology

BISMark is one part of a suite of measurement tools designed by researchers and hosted on the M-Lab platform. Although Google funds a large portion of the project, Meredith Whittaker, Program Manager from Google, told BroadbandBreakfast.com that BISMark is not a Google product. According to M-Lab’s website, Google provided servers and purchased network connectivity for the M-Lab platform, in addition to funding OTI.

M-Lab answered both the closed measurement systems available, and the political one-liners surrounding the issue of broadband on Capitol Hill, with BISMark. The technology is aimed towards creating clarity and openness surrounding broadband quality and speed.

“There is a lack of data and a lot of charged rhetoric in the space,” said Thomas Gideon, Senior Staff Technologist for Open Technology Initiative at New America Foundation.

The program was started in 2009 and has already collected nearly 400 terabytes of data for consumers to access and use. Servers hosting BISMark are currently deployed in the U.S., Europe and Australia; M-Lab is planning to expand into Japan in the near future.

More information on BISMark and M-Lab can be found on ProjectBismark.net and MeasurementLab.net.

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One Response to “New Tools to Measure Home Broadband Connections Now Available”

  1. Jason Says:

    This is great news for end users of home broadband services. Currently many of the tools available for measurement are either provided for by unreliable third parties selling advertising, like speedtest.net, or even worse, the ISPs themselves. I have Time Warner business class and when using the TW broadband measuring web page it invariably overstates my download and upload speeds. It would be wonderful to have an accurate measure of broadband speeds across providers so that ultimately consumers could make an educated choice rather than fumbling in the dark and hoping for the best.

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