Packet Clearing House investigates technological, economic, and policy issues in areas related to Internet traffic exchange.
PCH's longest-running research project is the Internet Routing Topology Archive, a database of Internet topology measurements begun in 1997. This archive of routing data from all major and many minor Internet provider networks is available to academic and commercial researchers and the operations community, to aid in the understanding of the dynamic nature and topology of the Internet.
Other topics of ongoing research include the economic impact of local traffic exchange in developing nations, inter-provider notifications and communication, and database schemas for topological data.
Packet Clearing House facilitates research, instruments the Internet, collects, archives, and disseminates information and data, and creates a climate conducive to analytical examination of all aspects of Internet topology, operational practice, and economics. Although we have collected and maintain the world's largest database of Internet routing information, we prefer to put researchers in academia together with the data that they need, rather than analyze all the data we collect ourselves - a task beyond the capacity of any one organization. We believe that, by facilitating partnerships between industry and academia and enabling communication between the two communities, we can achieve a more enduring beneficial effect.
Because PCH technologists come from operational engineering backgrounds, and have in fact each constructed major Internet backbone networks or exchange facilities, they are uniquely able to communicate with other members of the operations community from a position of trust. This has historically been one of the challenges facing researchers from the academic community who wish to work in the Internet arena: they don't have relationships with, or means of introduction to, the many different people who each possess a portion of the raw data researchers need access to. Other obstacles to academic researchers include matters of scale (the sheer number of exchanges and networks from which data must be collected), time (few researchers are able to mount multi-year data-collection efforts before beginning their analysis, yet a depth of baseline data of four to six years is often necessary), and expense (the cost of deploying and maintaining high-speed data-collection equipment in tens or hundreds of locations over a multi-year time-span). Packet Clearing House has addressed each of these problems by creating a single point of contact through which academic researchers can obtain many years' raw or pre-digested data, as well as technical assistance and introductions to potential collaborators, other researchers, and members of the operations or policy community.
This channel is bidirectional, and we are equally committed to ensuring that the operations and policy communities gain immediate access to the enlarged pool of research and analysis developed from the data we provide. By increasing the value returned to industry on its investment in data collection and research, we create a virtuous cycle that reinforces the values of analysis and of understanding the Internet environment in which we all operate.