The FCC challenges researchers and software developers to engage in research and create apps that help consumers foster, measure, and protect Internet openness.


The FCC challenges individuals or teams of researchers, inventors and software developers to produce research and create apps that empower consumers to monitor and protect Internet openness.  With this challenge, the FCC seeks to encourage and facilitate the development and use of open Internet software tools, both fixed and mobile, as well as research on relevant open Internet measurement results, methods, techniques and approaches. 

(For more information about Internet openness, see


The winners of the Open Internet Challenge will be invited to FCC headquarters in Washington, DC, to present their work to the Commission and to be honored with an FCC Chairman’s reception.  Winning apps and research will be featured on the FCC’s website and social media outlets.  Winners will be reimbursed for authorized travel expenses.




The term “open Internet” describes the Internet as we know it—an open platform, that enables consumer choice, freedom of expression, competition, user control, and the freedom to innovate without permission.  On the open Internet, end users can communicate freely with others, send and receive information of their choice, and develop and use applications and services of their choosing. On December 21, 2010, the FCC adopted high-level rules of the road for broadband providers to ensure that the Internet’s openness is preserved.




The Open Internet Challenge is designed to encourage the development of creative, innovative and functional software tools that provide users with real-time data about their fixed or mobile broadband Internet connection, as well as Internet-wide patterns and trends based on aggregate data.

Today, Internet users have access to some software tools that provide real-time information on network properties such as network performance, traffic shaping, and application discrimination.  These apps enable end-users to monitor their Internet service.  The resulting data can help researchers and policy makers gain a better understanding of the evolution of the open Internet.

The Open Internet Challenge seeks to encourage the development of new, more effective applications that provide users with information about the extent to which their fixed or mobile broadband Internet services are consistent with open Internet principles.  These software tools could, for example, detect whether a broadband provider is interfering with DNS responses, application packet headers, or content.

These applications should also collect anonoymized data that can be used for network research and analysis of patterns and trends in Internet openness.

One popular platform for Internet software tools is Measurement Lab (M-Lab), “an open, distributed server platform for researchers to deploy Internet measurement tools.”  Those interested in running their software tools on the M-Lab platform should contact the M-Lab steering committee, which coordinates research on the M-Lab platform. 



This challenge also seeks novel and innovative research papers that analyze relevant Internet openness measurement techniques, approaches, and data.  Research on Internet openness can improve policy making and advance Internet transparency, which helps to sustain a healthy Internet.  The research must be new or recent and directly involve open Internet principles. For example such research may illuminate how widely fixed and mobile broadband providers observe the FCC’s open Internet principles, or how advanced network services can be provided in a way that adheres to open Internet principles.

Both published and unpublished papers will be accepted.  Published research papers need to have been published after January 2007.

View full rules

How to enter


Contestants in the apps category may either develop a new open Internet software tool or substantially improve an existing app.  Any new or improved app must be openly licensed (i.e., open source) and any non-personally identifiable data collected through the software tool must be made available, upon request, to the public for independent analysis.  The app must be free to use and available over the Internet. 

Contestants shall apply via the portal (click the "Submissions" tab above) and provide the FCC with instructions on how to access the software application.  Contestants shall provide a technical report or paper that describes how the app works, how it can help users deploying the tool, and what kind of data is gathered and stored.  If measurement data contains personally identifiable information, the report must indicate how such data is anonymized and secured against accidental disclosure.  If the tool has already been used to gather data, the report or paper should briefly describe the key results.  The combined total of the accompanying instructions, report, or paper should be no longer than 20 pages (11 pt font or larger).



Submissions in the research paper category shall be submitted via the portal (click the "Submissions" tab above).  Papers need to have been peer-reviewed by a recognized scientific conference or journal and must have been published after January 2007.  Papers can be uploaded in either PDF or Word format. There are no page limits for research papers.


FCC Staff Judges

FCC Staff Judges
To be determined before entry deadline

No avatar 100

External Expert Judges
To be determined before entry deadline

Judging Criteria

  • Quality and Accuracy
    The overall quality and accuracy of the network tests.
  • User Appeal
    Overall appeal and ease of use for end-users, including those who are not advanced Internet users.
  • Impact and Utility of Data
    Potential for results or methods to impact consumer expectations, public awareness, policy discussions, and future work by other researchers, including the utility of resulting anonymous data for researchers, policy makers and the general public.
  • Generality and Statistical Validity
    Ability to extrapolate the results to large groups of users and methodologies results that conform to statistical best practices (e.g., confidence intervals).
  • Innovative Design
    The originality, creativity, and utility of the app's technical and aesthetic design.
  • Transparency and Awareness
    Potential to encourage transparency of network management policies and to increasing awareness and understanding of open Internet principles.
  • Bonus criterion: Alignment with Accessibility Guidelines
    Alignment with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (
    Overall quality; application to open Internet principles; impact on public awareness, policy discussions, and future work by other researchers.