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Google Battles ISPs With Technology

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artistsc01_logoIn the war between Google (s GOOG) 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.

This may be a boon for consumers, but a look at the M-Labs privacy policy shows that its going to be a problem for ISPs. The site says, “The goal of the project is to analyze information regarding broadband networks and report this information to the public.”

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.

12 Responses to “Google Battles ISPs With Technology”

  1. Brett Glass

    The Google “tools” aren’t “measurement tools;” they’re propaganda tools. Designed to find fault with ISPs’ service even when there’s nothing actually wrong, they under-report bandwidth (we got a measurement of 92 Kbps on a wide open 3 Mbps line), hang, crash, and report vital network management techniques as problems. But of course, Google doesn’t care about this. The purpose of the software is to cast aspersions upon ISPs so as to reinforce Google’s corporate drive to regulate the Internet.

  2. Unfortunate that existing players in this vertical havent jumped into such niches. and a bunch of others already allow users to assess their ISP’s speed (and also gives stats on ISP’s in the region etc), but other than a brute force upload/download, they havent been innovative enough – one more area where Google will the pack leader

  3. I love this. Now not a single ISP can lie about their activities. Hate or love Google for the way it handles data/privacy, the light it brings to dark corners is beyond useful.
    Another great Google service that will not generate revenue (although it may protect it, as Stacey pointed out), but will provide an important tool to consumers.