You are here: Home > Publications > RIPE Labs > Fatemah Mafi > Changes to the Distribution Model for RIPE Atlas Probes

Changes to the Distribution Model for RIPE Atlas Probes

Fatemah Mafi — 03 Jun 2014
As the RIPE Atlas network continues to grow, we have taken another look at our distribution model and made some adjustments to ensure wider topological and geographical probe coverage. Community feedback at RIPE 68, notably regarding RIPE Atlas probe coverage, encouraged the RIPE NCC to audit probe distribution in a stricter manner.

Growth of the RIPE Atlas network resulted in the shortage of probes

In the past two months, the RIPE NCC outsourced the shipping of RIPE Atlas probes to a third-party organisation, which will make it cheaper and more efficient for us to distribute probes. In addition to this, many ambassadors helped us reach other regions by distributing many probes at the conferences that they attended. This resulted in more growth of the network, as all the probes we had prepared for the first half of the year were distributed.

Increased number of active probes

Figure 1: Probe Deployment

Due to the increased interest in RIPE Atlas, we are now experiencing a shortage of probes. Shipments are currently delayed while we purchase and initialise new probes. We expect that these shipments will resume in July.

Increasing the diversity of coverage

Previously, all applicants for RIPE Atlas probes would receive a probe automatically, as we were establishing a global network. Now that we have ~6,000 active probes, we will evaluate all applications on an individual basis. We want to ensure that the remaining available probes cover the widest possible geographical areas and ASNs. We will perform targeted campaigns to approach operators and regions where more coverage would contribute to the RIPE Atlas network, starting with RIPE NCC members and RIPE region ASN holders who do not currently host any RIPE Atlas probes in their network.

Last week, we received an unexpected surge of applications following a posting on an online French “deals” forum about RIPE Atlas probes that referred 3,500 applications, many from people who simply wanted free hardware. It will take us some time to sift through the unprecedented number of applications and determine which applicants will receive a probe.

To mitigate this problem, we have clarified the messaging on the "Probe Request Form" and have made it very clear that we will evaluate every single request to determine whether hosting a probe in the requested location and network will increase the value and coverage of the network as a whole.

Increase in RIPE Atlas Probe Applications

Figure 2: Total Number of Probe Applications

Benefits for RIPE NCC members

We appreciate that RIPE Atlas funding comes from RIPE NCC membership contributions and have deployed a different distribution model for members. RIPE NCC members applying for a RIPE Atlas probe will be given priority as part of this distribution model - please ensure you are logged into your RIPE NCC access account when applying for your RIPE Atlas probe.

RIPE NCC members also enjoy additional benefits:

  • Members can claim one million credits every month to perform their own measurements; these can be claimed via the LIR Portal.
  • Members can perform "IPv6 reachability testing" from one-thousand probes, without having to spend any credits.
  • Quick Look is new function of RIPE Atlas, available to all RIPE NCC members, that allows single execution, on-the-spot network pings with fast response times that provide visualised results straight away. Simply specify a measurement target and then watch the visualisations build in real-time as the system randomly selects 100 probes from around the world to ping the target.

How else can I get involved with RIPE Atlas?

RIPE Atlas anchors are both enhanced RIPE Atlas probes with more measurement capacity, as well as regional measurement targets within the greater RIPE Atlas network. Anchor hosts earn ten times as many credits as regular probe hosts. The RIPE Atlas anchors application process and distribution model remains unchanged: we are still looking for RIPE Atlas anchor hosts and you can apply online.

RIPE Atlas sponsorships are also still available. There are many benefits that RIPE Atlas sponsors receive, including the opportunity to "adopt" existing probes, add additional probes to your own network, or to become a RIPE Atlas ambassador. More information about sponsorship, and what it entails, is available online. With the extra funding provided by sponsors, we are able to purchase and distribute even more RIPE Atlas probes.


We appreciate your patience and continued support of RIPE Atlas. We welcome your questions and feedback on the


Add comment

You can add a comment by filling out the form below. Only plain text is possible. Web and email addresses will be transformed into clickable links. Comments are moderated so they won't appear immediately.