Measurement Lab (M-Lab) Speed Test Information
DPI is committed to improving digital equity in the state of Wisconsin. As part of our efforts, DPI is collaborating with Measurement Lab (M-Lab) to collect data on internet connection speeds across Wisconsin. DPI will use M-Lab’s internet speed test data to create detailed reports and to provide maps of internet connection speeds across the state. These reports can help the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Access and other broadband task groups target initiatives to improve internet speeds statewide.
About the Data
What dashboards are available to me today to view speed test data from M-Lab? M-Lab provides premade dashboards to report on internet speeds, collected via their standard NDT (Network Diagnostic Tool), which are averaged over larger areas like school districts and counties. Data also includes provider speeds within those areas.
What data can I view from the M-Lab speed test? M-Lab provides a dashboard that can answer the following question: What are the average speeds from a zip code, city, county, congressional district or state perspective?
What data can I view specifically from a school district perspective? M-Lab created a dashboard specifically at DPI’s request that can answer the following question: What are the average speeds within school districts, broken down by ISP? For detailed information about this report, refer to the District Broadband Speed Report Information page.
Has the FCC provided household broadband guidelines? Yes. Their household broadband guidelines are here.
Tests Performed So Far
Below is a graph showing the cumulative number of speed tests since the beginning of this speed testing campaign.
To help collect data on internet speeds in your community, add a link to the M-Lab Speed Test on your school, district, or library's website, with an invitation for visitors to test their internet speed. We encourage people to run the speed test as many times as they want: the more data is available on internet speeds, the better we can target our efforts to improve internet connectivity in Wisconsin.
The URL for the M-Lab Speed Test is https://speed.measurementlab.net/#/.
You can also get the word out through email and social media. To get started, you can use the email templates and images in the digital equity communication toolkit.
Take the Speed Test in Three Simple Steps
On a device connected to your home internet, click on the link to the M-Lab broadband speed test.
Click Begin to start the test.
Consider running the test multiple times, at different times of day, as your internet speed can often vary throughout the day.
1. What is Measurement Lab? Measurement Lab, or M-Lab, is an open source project dedicated to measuring internet performance around the world creating a public data set of internet performance. This data is used by researchers, regulators, advocacy groups, and the general public to advocate for improved internet performance and maintain network quality. You can learn more about Measurement Lab on their About page.
3. What if my district uses a proxy server to filter student access? The M-Lab speed test measures the internet speed of the proxy server, not the originating device. This means that if your school district redirects internet traffic through a proxy server for school-issued computers, the internet speed of those devices will not be measured. If your school district uses a proxy server, we recommend that you either do not put the speed test link on your district web site, or that you include language saying that speed tests should not be taken from school-issued computers. Note that third party filtering products such as Securely and GoGuardian do not use proxy servers to filter student access.
4. Are speed tests reliable? In general, yes. There are factors that can impact measured speed which are listed below. The importance of having many different tests taken by many different internet users at various days, times, and conditions is what leads to a more complete and realistic picture of internet speeds.
- Subscriber speed selection. If a consumer has an internet speed option of 1Gbps, but they only choose to purchase 25Mbps/3Mbps service the test reflect that consumer’s choice, not the available speed.
- Additional Wi-Fi enabled devices. If there are other Wi-Fi devices or users connected to a network at the same time (i.e. multiple telecommuters on videoconferences, students distance learning or streaming HD video), impact the connectivity of the device performing the speed test.
- Network bandwidth consumption on the testing device. Running an application like Netflix while running a speed test affects results.
- Age and placement of equipment. Building materials in walls or other objects in the home or business interfere with a Wi-Fi signal. A router near appliances or metal objects that emit electromagnetic waves disrupt a Wi-Fi signal. An older computer may have an older network card incapable of the measuring internet speeds offered by a provider. An older router is likely to perform significantly worse compared to ones that are updated. Wi-Fi extenders and boosters are popular fixes when a router has a small antennae, which can impact the accuracy of a speed test.
- Using a virtual private network (VPN). Using a VPN or data-saving app can slow down your internet connection and produce inaccurate speed test results.
5. Are there other other options available for my district, library or community to analyze internet speed within smaller areas, other than statewide or district wide, such as neighborhoods or census blocks? Yes! Below are examples of two companies that you can contract with to gather address-level speed test information for a fee. These companies offer features that may help demonstrate where service quality as measured by speed differs in very detailed locations. Each broadband planning project needs can differ. DPI is not recommending either of these companies nor suggesting that address level data is necessary. These resources are for information purposes only.
Contact: Glenn Fishbine
Features offered beyond the standard M-Lab test being promoted by DPI:
Contact: Brian Rathbone
Features offered beyond the standard M-Lab test:
6. What are the benefits to contracting with a company to analyze internet speed within a specific area? As noted from the two provider examples, there are additional questions you can answer and data you can gather with a paid service that collects address level data for conducting speed tests such as:
- What are the average speeds for specific addresses? This information makes it possible to identify small areas where service is poor.
- Which specific addresses have no service?
The speed test data from any other provider generally can be added to M-Lab’s dataset just as when you use M-Lab’s standard test. DPI encourages anyone using other services to explore integrating their data with M-Lab's to enhance the overall statewide database. We would be happy to discuss those integration options with you.