Hundreds of ISPs all over the world limit and restrict BitTorrent traffic on their networks. Unfortunately, most companies are not very open about their network management solutions. With a newly launched website, Google is now helping out by supporting applications that distinguish the good ISPs from the bad.
ISPs have been throttling BitTorrent traffic for years, but only recently has this become a hot topic. In collaboration with New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute and the PlanetLab Consortium, Google is helpng ‘the cause’ by launching Measurement Lab (M-Lab), a site that helps users determine if their ISP is interfering with BitTorrent traffic.
Among other tools, M-Lab will run the Glasnost application developed by the Max Planck Institute. Last year, tests performed with the Glasnost tool revealed that Comcast and Cox were actively interfering with the BitTorrent transfers of their subscribers.
The Java applet developed by the Glasnost project uploads and downloads data via BitTorrent for a few seconds, and compares that to your regular download speed. It detects if your ISP is limiting all BitTorrent traffic, or just the flow of data through well known BitTorrent ports. All in all this tool should be able to tell you whether your ISP is messing with BitTorrent traffic or not.
In their quest for Net Neutrality, Google is backing the M-Lab project with 36 servers in 12 locations. Google will also provide network connectivity for the tools hosted on M-Lab. The servers Google has promised will be rolled out over the next few months, while the PlanetLab Consortium manages the tools hosted on the site.
The project aims to reveal the throttling practices of ISPs worldwide and put an end to all the secrecy. “Transparency has always been essential to the Internet’s success, and everyone can agree that Internet users deserve to be well-informed about what they’re getting when they sign up for broadband,” says M-Lab, explaining the ideals behind its website.
Among the other Net Neutrality tools hosted on M-Lab is a diagnostic tool which allows user to test their connection speed and receive sophisticated diagnosis of any slowdowns. More tools will be added soon, Google powered.