Google announced today that it will give end users the tools to figure out whether internet service providers are interfering with their broadband connections by blocking or “throttling” certain applications.
In a move that will undoubtedly ignite the issue of network neutrality, the company has partnered with the New America Foundation and Planet Labs to further develop Measurement Labs, an open-source platform that researchers can use to find out information about broadband connections.
Google is also providing academic researchers with 36 servers in 12 locations in the U.S. and Europe to develop tools that will allow users to measure the speed of their connections and figure out if their ISPs are blocking certain applications, according to Vint Cerf, the “Father of the internet” and Google’s Internet Evangelist, in a blog post today.
“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,” Cerf wrote. “Transparency has always been crucial to the success of the Internet, and, by advancing network research in this area, M-Lab aims to help sustain a healthy, innovative Internet.”
Google has already provided several tools for users to measure their internet connections on the Measurement Labs site.
The question is: how will internet service providers react to this?
Just this week, cable company and internet provider Cox Communications made a move away from net neutrality by announcing the roll out of a traffic management system that would give priority to time-sensitive traffic and delay less time-sensitive data, such as file uploads.
One of the tools Google plans to provide users on its M-Lab site is called DiffProbe. It will help users detect whether an internet service provider is giving some traffic a lower priority than other traffic.