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Google To Develop ISP Throttling Detector 198

Posted by timothy
from the if-choking-please-call-for-help dept.
bigwophh writes "Google has been very vocal on its stance for net neutrality. Now, Richard Whitt — Senior Policy Director for Google — announces that Google will take an even more active role in the debate by arming consumers with the tools to determine first-hand if their broadband connections are being monkeyed with by their ISPs."
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Google To Develop ISP Throttling Detector

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  • How convenient (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 14, 2008 @02:09PM (#23793459)
    Oh sure, Google freeloads off all the ISPs and is now developing a tool to detect when ISPs fight back. ...what, you say, Google pays for its bandwidth already? They haven't just hacked their servers into the Internet? Hmmm, maybe the ISPs lied then...
  • This to be followed by googles entry into the ISP market?
  • by Deltaspectre (796409) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @02:13PM (#23793497)
    FTA:

    What:
    Throttling detector

    Where:
    The interwho

    Why:
    Because ISPs like to throttle to give Papa Joe and his daughters a healthy feed of myspace and rain hellfire upon Torrenting Sam and his goon squad of seeders

    How:
    No details

    When:
    Who knows?
  • by paiute (550198) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @02:16PM (#23793521)
    "We were pretty well known on the internet. We were pretty popular. We had some funds available."

    Still, good on them for coming to a fork in the road - one to eviltown and the other to goodville - and choosing wisely.
  • by ForexCoder (1208982) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @02:24PM (#23793601)
    And watch the ISPs throttle this download to 1 byte/minute
    • by Yvan256 (722131)
      And how the hell are they supposed to send fractions of bits?

      I'm not buying a new router, damnit!
  • Kinda hard to do (Score:5, Interesting)

    by R4nm4-kun (1302737) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @02:28PM (#23793627)
    It's not really that easy to make a tool that would determine 100% sure that the ISP is throttling your connection, many ISP's do limit the whole bandwidth, but this application would have to detect that only a certain type of trafic is limited.

    I think Google is afraid it's youtube dreams are being squashed by evil ISP's. Google more than sure doesn't give a cent about P2P applications, so their app probably will only work for http throttling, namely flv streaming/youtube.

    Sorry for the google bashing, but this doesn't seem like google is as much interested in defending the poor customers against the evil ISP's as it's trying to defend it's own commercial interests.

    Something else, I don't think there will be a big success in bateling the big ISP's, as trafic rises, there is no way they can maintain the current bandwidth/price ratio, even with massive profit cuts and investments in infrastructure. ISP's are overselling at a massive scale, more than 100 times their banwidth capacity. (well, in the US it's possible to maintain current prices since it's one of the most overpriced countries in this domain).
    • by Asmor (775910) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @02:31PM (#23793667) Homepage

      Sorry for the google bashing, but this doesn't seem like google is as much interested in defending the poor customers against the evil ISP's as it's trying to defend it's own commercial interests.
      And in this case their interests align with the customers' interests, against the evil ISPs.
    • by lanc (762334) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @02:51PM (#23793835)

      this doesn't seem like google is as much interested in defending the poor customers against the evil ISP's as it's trying to defend it's own commercial interests.
      absolutely. but still - ever been pissed off because youtube is kinda slow lately?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        absolutely, i have been. i'm convinced that my ISP (charter) is throttling youtube specifically. i'll see speeds from youtube at less than 1/4 what i'll see from other sites (say, pulling apple trailers or watching flash content on any other site but youtube). it's been going on for ... i'm not certain how long, but a month at least? i'm trying to figure out to whom i should make my angry phone call. if i can find any viable alternative to charter in my area, i'm going for it.
        • i'm convinced that my ISP (charter) is throttling youtube specifically.

          Know why? Paul Allen [wikipedia.org], cofounder of Microsoft, owns a controlling interest in Charter Cable [wikipedia.org] (;-

          Falcon
    • by David_Hart (1184661) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @02:56PM (#23793895)
      Yeah, well it's their fault. The ISPs have been receiving fees from consumers for years that was supposed to be earmarked towards infrastructure upgrades. The only ISP that seems to be actually investing any money is Verizon with their FiOS service. Comcast has been doing nothing but riding the coat tails of technical innovation of being able to push more bits through the same old pipes. However, that is maxing out as evidenced by their HD service. They are compessing HD to the point where there is picture drop out and obvious compression artifacts. This is also why they are limiting bandwith.

      David
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rfunches (800928)

        What makes Comcast incredibly underhanded is that they advertise the wonders of their fiber optic network...and falsely imply FTTH service with lines like "I actually feel the fiber optic light from Comcast."

    • by Comatose51 (687974) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @03:20PM (#23794089) Homepage
      "Sorry for the google bashing, but this doesn't seem like google is as much interested in defending the poor customers against the evil ISP's as it's trying to defend it's own commercial interests."

      That's when you know when you can really trust someone, when both parties' interests are aligned. Trusting someone's good intentions has a long history of disappointment.
    • by iangoldby (552781) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @04:39PM (#23794673) Homepage

      many ISP's do limit the whole bandwidth, but this application would have to detect that only a certain type of trafic is limited
      Sorry to jump on you (you were just the first to say it), but please can we be clear:

      Net neutrality is not about giving all types of traffic the same priority. You can have a neutral net in which VOIP packets have a very high priority, HTTP packets a slightly lower priority, and bit torrent packets are bottom of the pile.

      Network neutrality is about giving all traffic of the same type the same priority regardless of its source. In other words, in a neutral net ISPs would not make deals with certain content providers to prioritise their traffic.

      It is really important that everyone understands this. Some of the organisations who are against net neutrality are using the argument that it is only sensible to prioritise protocols such as VOIP (prioritisation by type, which most people would agree with), when what they really want is to extract money out of the content providers by prioritising traffic by source.

      Why is prioritisation by source such a bad thing? Because it turns the 'old internet' on its head. Whereas at present anyone can be a content provider, in the brave new world of a non-neutral net only large organisations can afford to pay the ISPs to deliver their content at an acceptable speed.
    • Where have you been for the last 2 years or so?

      Google is very much opposed any kind of tempering, not just tampering which affects them.

      Also keep in mind that they have the some of the smartest brains on the planet (outside of the NSA) and it is possible to check for many different kinds of tampering.
      Its a very safe bet that the tool will do a extremely good job.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AySz88 (1151141)

      Google more than sure doesn't give a cent about P2P applications, so their app probably will only work for http throttling, namely flv streaming/youtube.

      Why wouldn't they care about P2P? If they can keep P2P tech evolving until it's mature enough to distribute Youtube videos on them, that translates into free bandwidth and service. I think there's already a lot of movement towards this - see P4P [wikipedia.org], Vuze [wikipedia.org], even NASA TV [digimeld.com] is piloting peer-to-peer distribution of its broadcast.

  • by ark1 (873448) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @02:32PM (#23793679)
    I suspect the main aim here is to reduce ads injecting by ISP which would take away money from Google ads. Presenting it as throttling detection tool is just a way to make it more appealing.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      As a web-author myself, I consider ISP practices and proposals to insert their ads into my web pages criminal: such ISPs are creating unauthorized derivative works and distributing them for profit. As far as I am concerned, it is criminal copyright infringement by the ISP.


      And I need help detecting the infringement.

  • Why not caps? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KasperMeerts (1305097) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @02:41PM (#23793757)
    Here in Belgium and other European countries, bandwidth is not throttled but capped. I can Bittorrent as much as I want, but I fall back to 1-3 kB/s as soon as I hit the 100 gigabyte barrier. This system is waaaay less underhand or hypocrite. FYI, I'm at 30.7 GB this month. It resets the day after tomorrow.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      Here in America though, the ISPs don't tell you anything. Some tell you that in the contract but it is always "excessive" bandwidth usage, never "100 GB" Or "300 GB" or per year, day, hour, etc. And all this when they are talking about "unlimited" in the same ad for the contract in which they say they have caps and can throttle you.
      • Or, like Comcast I believe, the limit was in mp3s. As in "You can download the equivalent of xxxx songs in a month." I vote bandwidth caps should be given in Libraries of Congress.
        • Then the song I will use for my comparison is a lame encoded rendition of "six degrees of inner turbulence" by Dream Theater⦠(It goes for 42 minutes) at 320kbps CBR

          I will accept that I can download the equivalent of any 4 digit number of this song per month. (~3MB/min for CBR 320Kbps MP3 * 42min = 126megs/song *1000(min 4 digit positive number)=126GB/month)

          I would consider Chew and Hiccup by Book Oven. The "song" is 240 minutes long, but I am concerned that it may compress fairly well...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Fumus (1258966)
      It's all cool when the caps are reasonable, but I have a feeling they would end up with a 50GB cap on a 10mbps connection and require you to pay $1 for each GB over the cap.
      Or worse. After exceeding your limit, you'll be stuck with 4KB/s for the rest of the month.
      • by Yvan256 (722131)
        The only high-speed connection available where I live is 5Mbps with a 35GiB monthly cap (35GiB total for upload+download) at 45$/month, with a 10$/GiB fee over the cap.

        Don't like it? There's always dial-up at 25$/month with no monthly cap.

        The upside? The nice little notice at the bottom of the monthly usage page:
        "Please note that at night time (00:00 to 07:59), traffic isn't calculated so you can do your massive downloads without risking going over your monthly cap."
    • by Bob9113 (14996) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @04:40PM (#23794685) Homepage
      Here in Belgium and other European countries, bandwidth is not throttled but capped. I can Bittorrent as much as I want, but I fall back to 1-3 kB/s as soon as I hit the 100 gigabyte barrier. This system is waaaay less underhand or hypocrite. FYI, I'm at 30.7 GB this month. It resets the day after tomorrow.

      Free market capitalism, eh? It's just crazy enough to work. We should try that here. :)
      • Re:Why not caps? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Kenz0r (900338) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @05:04PM (#23794923) Homepage

        Here in Belgium and other European countries, bandwidth is not throttled but capped. I can Bittorrent as much as I want, but I fall back to 1-3 kB/s as soon as I hit the 100 gigabyte barrier. This system is waaaay less underhand or hypocrite. FYI, I'm at 30.7 GB this month. It resets the day after tomorrow.

        Free market capitalism, eh? It's just crazy enough to work. We should try that here. :)
        I live in Belgium too, and I strongly disagree with parent. Our internet access may be neutral, but they're slower (4Mbits down / 400Kbits upload is the common standard for our adsl), and we're mocked by almost every other Western-European country for our traffic capped.
        Seriously, the biggest provider (a partially state-owned company, which has the entire nation's telephone net infastructure) charges 41 euros (61 usd) for 12 Gigabytes of traffic per month. Twelve, that's nothing! If you want to buy an extra pack of 5 Gb, it costs another 5 euros. Our internet providers would make a terrible model to follow, capped internet is almost just as terrible as a non-neutral net.
  • Easy to avoid.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @02:56PM (#23793881)
    Wouldn't this be easy for ISPs to avoid? Just un-throttle any connections to Google's servers? Just figure out where the test is being done and don't throttle that site. Easy.
    • by Asmor (775910) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @03:22PM (#23794105) Homepage
      I suspect it'll be a bit more sophisticated than that. I don't know a whole lot about networking, but I suspect it shouldn't be too hard to fake a connection so that it's difficult to distinguish it from a torrent. Thus the only way to "cheat" on the test would be to unthrottle all torrents, and in that case you're not really cheating anymore, are ya?

      Of course, as has been said earlier in the discussion, Google's likely most interested in the effects of throttling on their own applications, notably Youtube. So if they only test connections to Youtube, then it either forces ISPs to be caught red-handed or unthrottle youtube, a win-win situation for Google.
    • by vidarh (309115)
      You're assuming the tool would only test connections to Google. There's no reason to assume that.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by centuren (106470)

      Wouldn't this be easy for ISPs to avoid? Just un-throttle any connections to Google's servers? Just figure out where the test is being done and don't throttle that site. Easy.

      If the ISPs take that approach, and Google then releases their method & code, problem solved: we just all start testing and have our connections not throttled.

      Without knowing just what Google is going to produce, we need more information before deciding on how effective it's going to be one way or the other.

    • Re:Easy to avoid.... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Geekbot (641878) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @03:44PM (#23794275)
      Unless the software tool takes your bandwidth data and reports it book to Google servers to be analyzed in comparison to thousands to millions of other reports. This sort of meta-analysis is where Google can really shine. On one side of the deal, Google gets lots of information about network traffic. On the other side, the consumers get reliable information about their own network traffic. Definitely a sweet deal for google.

      If it is as simple as what you suggest it would be a great move for Google as the ISP's could unthrottle Google and Google would get superior network traffic over all of the smaller sites that don't have their own well used network-throttling-detectors.
    • by myrdos2 (989497)
      Then I suspect Google's web accelerator will become a most excellent service to use.
    • by Splab (574204)
      If I where to make such a program I would do it through bit torrent program and have peering clients test each other. They are looking for injected packets, just keep track of the results on the tracker and you should be able to figure out whats going on where.
  • not necessary... (Score:5, Informative)

    by SuperBanana (662181) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @03:03PM (#23793947)
    Comcast recently announced they bumped upstream bandwidth from 384kbit to 1mbit (FiOS pressure, anyone?) and they've also said they won't monkey about with p2p, right?

    Well, funny thing then that when my bittorrent client inched above 45-50kB/sec (less than half of the new limit, which is 125kB/sec), shortly thereafter ping times exploded from 20-25ms to 300-500ms. On a second occasion, it went up to 1000ms to 3000ms. Even if you throttle back to, say, 20kB/sec, ping times stay the same. They don't drop until you stop the client completely. Seems to take about 10 minutes for the throttling to kick in. It's so bad that ssh latency goes up to 5-10 seconds, and the web interface to my p2p client completely stopped working.

    The same thing happened with eDonkey, so either they're going off traffic volume, or they're detecting any p2p traffic.

    • Comcast recently announced they bumped upstream bandwidth from 384kbit to 1mbit...

      Wow, I actually learned something on Slashdot today! After reading this, I went to Speakeasy's Speed Test [speakeasy.net] and tried it out. Sure enough, my upload speed is now 1 megabit/sec.

      This is great news. For quite a while Comcast would keep bumping their download speed cuz it makes for better marketing - but anything above 4mbps doesn't make a significant difference for me (most of the time). But when I have to work from home, being able to upload at 1mbsp instead of 384kbps makes a HUGE difference.

      It's also great i

  • by lattyware (934246) <gareth@lattyware.co.uk> on Saturday June 14, 2008 @03:55PM (#23794343) Homepage Journal
    ... use Google TiSP [google.com] instead!
  • And the point? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @04:01PM (#23794381) Homepage Journal
    Its not like the ISPs are denying it anymore.

    Sure, you find out for sure, and and then what? In a lot of areas the 'hi-speed market' is a monopoly.

  • by Easy2RememberNick (179395) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @04:48PM (#23794791)
    What I don't get is why an ISP would care if you encrypt things.

      If you use encryption on your torrent connection you'd think that would be good for an ISP, if they're required by law to block people from downloading movies and songs but they can't see it since you're encrypting everything that should get them off the hook.

      Bell Canada just seemed to just say screw this and started to throttle all encrypted traffic. Although they said it was because of bandwidth issues.

      I say for an ISP ignorance is bliss!
  • Ever notice that Google sometimes does squicky, evil things, but then they turn around and take the side of Net Neutrality and spend time and effort on a project like this? Interesting..
  • by aplusjimages (939458) on Saturday June 14, 2008 @07:01PM (#23795667) Journal
    Once the tool is ready how will Google get it to the masses? I'm talking about your average Joe Internet user. Let's face it, /. users will probably have this along with other nerd/geek/informed Internet surfers, but will that be enough noise to stop broadband corporations from throttling? Broadband companies will only care when average Joe starts complaining that he's paying for a service that isn't completely there.
  • The FCC really step in and say you guys need to come with a CIR in the context of best effort delivery and stick with it.
  • by dilvish_the_damned (167205) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @03:30AM (#23798589) Journal
    Yay, some quotes from some Google guy. Nothing technical.

    First, you can bet your ass this is pretty damned hard not to get false positives, however I will admit before someone does it for me that the collective mind of Google is much smarter than I. I will not say it cannot be done. Its just unlikely ( still nothing technical ).

    I work for a company that provides software ( and firmware ) for the largest ( physically, and capacity wise ) commercial satellite in the world. It only moves IP packets ( plus meta ). I am not a sales person, I design, prototype, sometimes build the software that controls the flows. I certainly maintain a heavy hand in in it all technically, I have nothing to do with service level policies, other than providing feasible solutions.I feel somewhat qualified to tell you strait up that this 'net neutrality' thing is both a bunch of bullshit and that its prompted by "Board Room" level jealousy of profits.
    Before I get into the heavy of it I want to tell you that I feel that if you buy 1mbps you should get 1mbps. None of this "until you reach 15GB" crap... unless thats what you paid for.Unlimited should be without qualification unless they qualify it up front ( meaning its not "unlimited" ). Truth in advertising is the key here.
    But on the other hand, you want your VOIP calls to be clear, you want your game session to be non-choppy. You want your web pages to take temporary priority over your FTP session, oh yes you do.
    Likewise, you do not want the guy in the next cubicle to take up all of available bandwidth downloading [insert something big] over P2P or whatever you kids do these days to defeat fairness controls.Some of the legislation put forth in the name of neutrality would make it illegal for me to make it fair.
    When I first got into this business it was common practice to oversell by five times, I recently have had documents cross my desk that suggest it is common practice to sell it 80 times over. Given that providers like TimeWarner want to jack the max speed to 15mb for an extra 5 bucks, its no wonder that they then want to put into place caps on usage ( they didn't mean you should use it ).

    Oh wait, we were talking about neutrality. Right. So anyhow, you have groups trying to prioritize traffic, and then you have groups trying to tell the googles and the ebays in the world that they need to pony up some cash if they want fair access to the customers. This has nothing to do with QoS, this is extortion. We already have laws that cover this. Google is taking the wrong tact in the sense that they are trying to rally people behind them in demanding fair access, and I think they should be pressing criminal charges.

    Do not get me wrong, my satellite covers a large portion of Asia, it has nothing to do with what is being proposed right here with Net Neutrality, other than the fact that my Internet is getting messed with by largish companies and politicians that do not know much about the problems.

    Please... understand what you are proposing before you start pushing the badwagon.

    I want to be clear, I feel that legislated "Net Neutrality" is bad, it will not work out well. I feel that there are plenty of laws in place that should incarcerate corporations ( if only we could ) for the obvious laws they are breaking by trying to force popular internet sites to pay them for access to customers that are already paying them. I would like to get into honesty in advertising, and why its really up to you guys to fix this, but it would rather go in a book for I am long winded.
    Really guys and gals, we need some perspective on this, no one wants our internet messed with like this and if you leave it up to the corps and the elected, its going to get messed up. I am not sure what you expect to gain by this, but I am sure what you end up with is a pile of crap if it continues for too long. Please, we can apply laws that have been enforced for decades to cover this, its not mystery to us, its time we demystify it to everyone else.

    P.S. Isnt the posting editing window really small now?

    --dant
  • by Raven737 (1084619) on Sunday June 15, 2008 @05:40AM (#23799017)
    So a car dealer has two Ferrari's, but me sells 3 of them.
    The next day 3 customers show up to pick up their Ferraris, clearly the car dealer is outraged!
    3 showing up when he only expected 2 even though he sold 3?! Unbelievable!

    But the solution is simple, since the evil customers expected to get what they payed for, it's clearly all their fault,
    and hence it is only fair to the car dealer that he be fully paid and the customers will have to timeshare.

    Of course if the customers drive in California, the car dealer will have to be paid an additional $100/day since
    driving in such a high traffic area it just completely unfair to the car dealer who only expected costumers to drive in rural, desolate areas of Idaho.

    And in case some people don't know how to make the connection here, just replace "Ferrari" with "GB bandwidth" and "car dealer" with "ISP" (and what ever else needed to make perfect sense :)

    If we let's ISP's get away with any of it, they won't just stop with throttling BitTorrent, they will oversell their bandwidth 1000-10,000x instead of just 10-30x and then throttle absolutely everything to make it all meet. Suddenly you downloading your 500kb Email attachment is an overuse of bandwidth and deserves to be cut down to 3kb/s. But don't worry, that annoying 1.2MB Flash commercial with be subsidized so it won't count and will stream with 10MB(yte)/s over your fiber connection to annoy you instantly. But you can't complain, after all you are getting your full bandwidth worth on SOME content.

    In my overly optimistic way, i would hope that it doesn't really matter who releases such a tool and weather it works or not, just that the greedy ISP think there might be something to nail them down or at least make their unethical misdeeds visible might be enough for them to be not quite as bold, maybe even start campaigning with 'no throttling, test it yourself'. But i forgot that in the US there isn't really any ISP Broadband competition, i mean in the areas i lived in there was only once choice, first it was either Cable or nothing... then we moved, now we had the choice of At&t DSL or.... nothing.... yay. And even in those areas where people are lucky enough to have TWO offerings, chances are very good that both are evil bastards and already throttling

    Now that i have been living in Germany for a while, i almost get weekly adds from some ISP i have never heard of supposedly being cheaper then my current isp. My 16MBit/s connection combined with some unlimited call package is cheap enough though (compared to the us) but it makes me feel good that if there is ever even the hint of throttling that i can simply switch one of the many other isp's.
  • Google should worry more about ISPs selling out to Phorm. Advert re-writing strikes closer to their revenue stream.

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