A partnership between Aalto University in Finland and the Internet Society, the organizational home of the Internet Engineering Task Force, has resulted a collaborative mobile application, Netrader, designed to measure the diversity of Internet access around the world.
Netradar is a free service that provides neutral and accurate information about the quality and diversity, in terms of bandwidth and latency, of Internet connections and mobile devices, collected by the end users themselves anonymously around the world.
"Internet access is becoming increasingly mobile and the next billion users will experience the Internet in new ways from those already online," a joint statement from both organizations said. "The experience of Internet connectivity is far from uniform, and observing the variety of connectivity, and how it is changing over time is important."
Smartphone users around the globe can download the app and contribute their measurements to a global picture of Internet diversity and evolution, with results displayed on a map found on the Internet Society’s website.
"One of the tremendous benefits of Internet technology is the ability to connect diverse networks together, said Phil Roberts, acting chief Internet technology officer at the Internet Society," said in a statement. "With Netradar we hope to expose and share some of that diversity and also to study over time how the Internet is changing."
When users run the application they are presented with data about the quality of their connectivity and this data is simultaneously uploaded to the Netradar database.
No personal information, such as names or addresses, is gathered by the system, and it is not necessary to have an account or login to use the system.
The Netradar client has already been installed over 120,000 times and the database currently holds over 3 million measurements, a press statement claimed.
"Globally, the number of users in developing countries now exceeds those in developed countries and there are now more mobile broadband subscribers than fixed," Roberts continued. "The Internet Society is focused on ensuring the sustainability and reliability of the Internet and Netradar will help us to understand the scope and impact of these changes. It's very exciting to be launching this collaboration with Aalto University."
The Netradar application is currently available for Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, Symbian, Meego, Maemo, Jolla and Blackberry platforms.
"The Netradar service has been extremely popular in Finland and the public performance maps and statistics of networks are becoming very accurate," Professor Jukka Manner from Aalto University, who leads the Netradar team, said in a statement. "This collaboration with the Internet Society will help researchers and Internet users study the evolution of mobile Internet and form an even more accurate model of network quality worldwide."