In the war between Google and Internet service providers, Google is trying a new weapon — information. The search giant has teamed up with New America Foundation‘s Open Technology Institute and PlanetLab Consortium to create Measurement Labs, a server platform and a series of software tools to measure broadband speeds, whether or not your ISP is filtering BitTorrent traffic and a diagnostic tool for last-mile problems. Coming soon are tests to help a user figure out of their ISP is prioritizing certain traffic in the name of network management (sound familiar?), and if certain users are experiencing degraded traffic.
Because M-Labs’ tests records the user’s IP address, upload/download speed and packet headers, researchers can also tell what ISP someone uses and where they are coming from. Get enough of this data and it could be useful in figuring out a real view of broadband competition in the U.S. Congress had to pass a law last year to get this type of data out of ISPs.
I’m sure many of our readers can’t wait to test this out, but remember this isn’t just a gift for us, but a strategy in an overall fight to control revenue generation on the web. After all, Google doesn’t want to have to bow to the ISPs, and the last mile is one key section of its infrastructure it doesn’t yet control.