c|net: States couldn’t afford to wait for the FCC’s broadband maps to improve. So they didn’t.

For states that don’t have complete data from ISPs, one of the best options for mapping is crowdsourcing. Consumers can share what sort of coverage and speeds they have, typically through speed tests. Maine, Pennsylvania and others have worked with Measurement Lab (M-Lab) for its open, free tests. When someone Googles “speed test,” the box that appears at the top of the results is powered by M-Lab technology. 

The aim when setting up M-Lab over a decade ago was to show the FCC a prototype of how it could quickly and inexpensively use standard scientific research methodologies to derive a national broadband map, said Sascha Meinrath, a broadband data expert who serves as director of X-Lab, a future-focused technology policy and innovation think tank, and holds the endowed Palmer Chair in Telecommunications at Penn State University. Along with his role at the university, Meinrath co-founded M-Lab with Vint Cerf — considered one of the founders of the internet — and other researchers.