With Comcast being sanctioned by the FCC for terminating P2P sessions and Cos just announcing it will soon be capping bandwidth utilization for anything it deems non-time-sensitive, many Internet users have been wondering if there’s any way to determine if their ISPs are monkeying around traffic behind their backs…presumably in the name of “reasonable network management.” But determining what an ISP is or isn’t letting through at any given moment is tough work, beyond the reach of most everyday Internet users.
Now Google is aiming to shed some light on ISPs bandwidth management practices with its new Measurement Lab, and open platform that will enable researchers to deploy Internet measurement tools. Championed by none other than Vint Cerf, Google’s chief Internet evangelist and so-called “Father of the Internet” (and in partnership with the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute and the PlatnetLab Consortium), M-Lab will start off with 36 servers in 12 distributed locations in the U.S. and Europe, and enable researchers to collect performance data. Google intends M-Lab to be a community-driven effort, and promises all data will be available for other researchers to build on.
Initially, M-Lab is running three tools that are intended to help users diagnose common problems and determine whether BitTorrent is being blocked or throttled back by ISPs. Google anticipates additional tools will be running on M-Lab from other researchers and community members—two more network diagnostic tools are slated to come online soon.
“At Google, we care deeply about sustaining the Internet as an open platform for consumer choice and innovation,” wrote Cerf in the Google corporate blog. “No matter your views on net neutrality and ISP network management practices, everyone can agree that Internet users deserve to be well-informed about what they’re getting when they sign up for broadband, and good data is the bedrock of sound policy.”