NetStat.Net started as a perl script that pinged a number of web hosts to show the latency from its main host (in Virginia) to a variety of servers near relevant NAPs (network access points) around the US.
Each host pinged the same set of hosts in order to get a sense of the “weather” on the internet: how quickly packets were moving from various perspectives, to answer the question “is my internet slow? or is it the ‘net?”
It made headlines in 1998 when MCI threatened to sue over reporting information about their network:
April 17th, 1998 – Cold front for “weather” sites
April 18th, 1998 – MCI accused of bully tactics
The project expanded to 15+ servers around the US with a spinoff in Australia.
It was mentioned in wired:
May 27th, 1998 – Net Forecast: Cloudy, but Clearing
The code for the parser was released under the GNU GPL and is still available.
During the .com era, netstat.net became the basis for an early Pingdom-style service focused on making an offering competitive with Keynote Systems’ lower-end services.