Hundreds of larger and smaller ISPs all over the world try to limit BitTorrent traffic on their networks. Unfortunately, most companies are not very open about their network management solutions, with Comcast as the prime example. Thanks to the Glasnost project, you can now test wheter your ISP is one of the bad guys.
A while back we posted about the plugin Azureus had developed, which allowed people to check whether their ISP is interfering with their traffic. The results showed that indeed quite a few ISPs were, but the plugin didn’t provide the user with direct feedback.
The new tool developed by the “max planck institute for software systems” can be used without having to run your BitTorrent client, and compares BitTorrent traffic to regular traffic. On top of that, it will give you more information than the Azureus plugin does.
“The goal of our Glasnost project is to make access networks, such as residential cable, DSL, and cellular broadband networks, more transparent to their customers,” the Glasnost team writes. We couldn’t agree more of course, as we have said many times before.
The way it works is pretty straightforward. 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 traffic on 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.
Please keep in mind that the degree of traffic shaping varies a lot between different ISPs. Some ISPs only limit BitTorrent traffic during certain times of the day or do not throttle until the customer has exceeded a certain data threshold, others only slow down traffic in specific regions. More advanced tools have to be developed to detect these methods.
Thus far, over 5,300 users have performed the test, and the preliminary results show that at least 10 ISPs in the United States are slowing down BitTorrent. We asked the researcher for some more details (names) but we haven’t heard back from them. However, on their website, they promise to provide more detailed results later, once the code is peer-reviewed.
We encourage you to do the test, if the test results show that your ISP is limiting BitTorrent traffic, please let us know. We will add a lits of offenders at the bottom of this article.
1. Comcast, USA