Search giant Google this week launched a new service for Internet users and researchers, designed to detect moves by Internet service providers (ISPs) to filter or throttle their subscribers’ Internet connections.
The Measurement Lab (MLab) is described as an early warning system which can flag possible Net neutrality offenders for closer attention by free speech and civil rights advocates. Google wants to encourage partnerships with independent Internet researchers to build and deploy a wide variety of Internet research and measurement tools.
But individual Internet users can test their own connections now, for free, to see if they’re getting what their ISP promised.
Specifically, the Measurement Lab lets you:
- Test your connection speed and receive sophisticated diagnosis of problems limiting speed.
- Test whether BitTorrent is being blocked or throttled.
- Diagnose common problems that impact last-mile broadband networks.
The Lab is currently working on additional testers which will be able to:
- Determine whether an ISP is degrading the performance of a certain subset of users, applications or destinations.
- Determine whether an ISP is giving some traffic a lower priority than other traffic.
The Measurement Lab will eventually employ a dozen Google servers around the world. However, there are currently only three dedicated MLab servers in place and they were very busy when we attempted to try out the various testers. Wait times of about 15 minutes were the norm.
Fortunately, there are other servers available, running the same diagnostic tools, and they are listed along with the MLab servers at the MLab Web site. Unfortunately, even the alternate servers were extremely busy several days after the MLab launch.