Feeds

Google preps net neut dowser

'If Comcast won’t tell you, find out yourself'

Boost IT visibility and business value

Innovation 08 In an effort to identify traffic discrimination by American ISPs, Google is prepping a suite of network analysis tools for everyday broadband users.

"We're trying to develop tools, software tools...that allow people to detect what's happening with their broadband connections, so they can let [ISPs] know that they're not happy with what they're getting - that they think certain services are being tampered with," Google senior policy director Richard Whitt said this morning during a panel discussion at Santa Clara University, an hour south of San Francisco.

If the country doesn't have neutral networks, Whitt contends, innovation stagnates among application developers. And he believes that individual consumers - as well as Washington policy makers - should join the fight for such neutrality.

"The forces aligned against us are real. They've been there for decades. Their pockets are deep. Their connections are strong with those in Washington," he said. "Maybe we can turn this into an arms race on the application software side rather a political game."

Whitt wouldn’t say when these tools would be available – or how they will operate. But he did indicate that ultra-clever Google engineers began work on the project some time ago. We’re guessing they were inspired by Comcast - the big-name American ISP caught blocking BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer traffic last summer.

"If the broadband providers aren’t going to tell you exactly what’s happening on their networks," Whitt told The Reg, "we want to give users the power to find out for themselves."

It’s no secret that Google advocates strict net neutrality, or as Whitt likes to call it "broadband neutrality". The real issue, he points out, is the proverbial last mile. "The network in this case is not the internet, but the broadband network," he said, speaking alongside other opinionated network watchers at the latest Innovation '08 panel, a Media Access Project-sponsored discussion meant to explore US internet policy. "What we're talking about is the on-ramps to the internet controlled not only by the telephone companies and cable companies but now the wireless companies."

But there was a time when Google at least considered the other side of this epically contentious argument. In the fall of 2005, when then SBC Telecommunications chief Ed Whitacre told BusinessWeek that certain companies should pay extra to use his pipes for services such as high quality uninterrupted video, the Google brain trust sat down for a brain storm on the matter. And at least one uber-Googler suggested that a neutral network wasn't worth fighting for.

"The question was raised by the top level management at Google: What do we think about network neutrality – about this notion that broadband companies have the power to pick winners and losers on the internet?" Whitt explained. "One position was that in the environment [proposed by Whitacre], Google would do quite well.

"This side of the argument said: We were pretty well known on the internet. We were pretty popular. We had some funds available. We could essentially buy prioritization that would ensure we would be the search engine used by everybody. We would come out fine – a non-neutral world would be a good world for us."

But then that Google idealism kicked in.

Seven Steps to Software Security

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee
But there's a flaw in Google's IP-based IoT system
Microsoft unsheathes cheap Android-killer: Behold, the Lumia 530
Say it with us: I'm King of the Landfill-ill-ill-ill
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.