Google and partners to expose network meddling

By on January 28, 2009, 6:18 PM
As promised several months ago, Google and a group of partners have formed the Measurement Lab platform, an open project of distributed servers meant to help researchers gauge just how well an internet connection is working and conversely help customers determine if their ISP is blocking or throttling particular applications.

As part of the plan, Google will provide M-Lab with 36 servers in 12 locations in the U.S. and Europe to run a set of tools which initially include: a network diagnostic tool, which reports the upload and download speeds and also attempts to determine what problems limited these speeds; a tool to detect whether your ISP is performing application-specific shaping; and network and path application diagnosis (NPAD), which diagnoses some of the common problems affecting the last network mile and end-users' systems.

Google insisted that the effort was not just another means to push Net neutrality and said it believes that consumers should have the right to clearly understand the exact nature of the connection they’re paying for. To help with that goal, M-Lab says two additional tools should arrive shortly, DiffProbe and Nano. The first will attempt to detect if an ISP is classifying certain kinds of traffic as “low priority” (a technique Comcast began using not long ago), while the latter will attempt to detect if an ISP is degrading the performance of a certain subset of users, apps, or destinations.




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