Google To Develop ISP Throttling Detector

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News Posted: Fri, Jun 13 2008 6:35 AM
Update: The news story below was originally posted on Friday, June 13. It is a brief summary of a longer news article written by Cade Metz of The Register. After our article posted we were contacted by Technology Consultant George Ou, who was briefly referenced in our news story. Ou felt that Metz's coverage--and therefore our coverage as well--did not accurately represent his statements or some of the arguments for network prioritization. For the sake of balanced news coverage, we are adding a link to Ou's blog here, where he provides another perspective on this story.

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: 

"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.

 


In an article written by Cade Metz, a reporter for The Register, Metz explains that when the net neutrally debate first popped up at Google, Google actually considered playing along with the network-throttling ISPs: 

"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 more idealist minds prevailed at Google, and the company has advocated network neutrality ever since--"or as Whitt likes to call it 'broadband neutrality'." Whitt didn't mention when the network analysis tools would become available.

Other participants of the panel discussion had very different opinions on network neutrality, such as "George Ou and Richard Bennett, two networking-obsessed pals who have vehemently defended Comcast's right to throttle peer-to-peer traffic." The one thing that everyone on the panel appeared to agree on, however, was that ISPs need to be transparent with how they manage their network traffic. Google's stance is that if the ISPs won't disclose that information to the public, then consumers should have the tools at hand to determine for themselves what their ISPs are doing.
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Lev_Astov replied on Fri, Jun 13 2008 7:01 AM
Normally I hate giant corporations, but I just keep liking Google more and more. Way to go!

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SqUiD267 replied on Fri, Jun 13 2008 8:51 AM

 Google is doing everythign for us. The question is why? Maybe they love us so much.

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3vi1 replied on Fri, Jun 13 2008 11:20 AM
Whoa... that almost broke my sarcasmometer.

What part of "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn" don't you understand?

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FSeven replied on Fri, Jun 13 2008 1:20 PM

The way things are going, all ISP's are going to be throttling bandwidth, so this tool will be irrelevant.

As far as I know, Verizon is the only ISP that doesn't throttle. However, they're still installing lots fiber for their FiOS network. Their coverage area is miniscule compared to cable company's coverage. You can bet that as FiOS keeps spreading, and attracting more customers, once their coverage area rivals that of cable company's, Verizon will start throttling as well. 

Until then, Verizon FiOS is your best bet if you can get it. I'm still waiting for FiOS in my area. 

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SqUiD267 replied on Fri, Jun 13 2008 1:37 PM
Ugh, you reminded me I still don't have Fios. Ugh the commercial is on now, im so jeaslous of those who can have fios.

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i must say I can attest to FiOS being amazing, but I just saw a news report on of the networks about Verizon, AOL/Time Warner and several others, AT&T. It said they were joining forces to purge their servers of news groups (read torrent sharing sites) because they lead to child pornography sites. I agree child porn is abhorrent  but that surely constitutes censorship and possibly throttling.

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AjayD replied on Fri, Jun 13 2008 8:42 PM

I already loved Google, so this is just icing on the cake.

There are various ISPs in addition to Verizon that do not throttle P2P traffic. The only catch is that they are not any of the major ISPs, so in order to take advantage of their services you will need to be getting your internet service from someone who allows you to choose from an approved list of ISPs. Qwest is one such company and I am sure there are others.

I agree that the movement among US and foreign ISPs alike is heading towards an overwhelming favor in the way of throttling. All of this I believe comes down to reducing costs to allow for greater profits. Regardless of whatever the excuse du jour happens to be, whether it is to fight child pornography, copyright infringement, etc. this is not the proper way to address such concerns. The fairest and coincidentally the most effective approach is to target such activities at the source rather than the destination. By following ISPs current logic and taking it to the extreme, we end up with an internet restricted to such an extent that it no longer remains the internet.

 

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FSeven replied on Fri, Jun 13 2008 9:36 PM

I have no problems with ISP's throttling bandwidth. I can understand it from a business perspective.

However don't piss on my head and tell me it's raining. Don't advertise your services as 'Unlimited Internet at Max Speeds' and then tell me you're going to limit that.

This is another reason I want Obama in office. He has an aggressive tech policy, light years beyond John 'I thought Windows was something on a house' McCain. Obama wants to redefine 'broadband'. The FCC today defines “broadband” as an astonishingly low 200 kbps. Much much lower than many other developed countries. This distorts federal policy and hamstrings efforts to broaden broadband access. Obama will define “broadband” for purposes of national policy at speeds demanded by 21st century business and communications.

 

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News replied on Fri, Jun 13 2008 10:09 PM
heh... it pegged my sacastometer too! Now, where's that dang BS detector when I need it. ;)
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News replied on Sat, Jun 14 2008 9:30 PM

I think you will find ISP's just move to charging you for how much
bandwidth you move instead of trying to rate limit the traffic you
use. Its a costly model to preform Deep Packet Inspection or URL
inspection to police traffic from residential subscribers. In fact it
makes a lot more sense to just count how much bandwidth you use and
say:

"look you used X amount this month we are going to drop you to 128/128 for the remainder of the month or you can enter plastic digits here [.....] and go back to download Nirvana".

Google will keep ISP's honest with tracking who is policing but really
its just going to turn into pay for X amount of bandwidth per month.
Perhaps this will cause Business connections to drop in price.




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I got this E-Mail few weeks ago, I forgot about it though.

Effective June 9, 2008 - Important Information Regarding Changes to Your Verizon Online Terms Of Service

The following is an outline of important changes to the Verizon Online Terms of Service which are effective as of June 9, 2008. We have described these changes in general terms below and recommend that you review the complete Terms of Service to determine how these changes, and other routine changes being made simultaneously, apply to you or your use of the Service. The Terms of Service can be accessed by clicking on the "Policies and Terms of Service" link (www2.verizon.net/policies) at the bottom of any page of our Website. The Terms of Service, as revised, will govern your rights and obligations, and ours, with respect to your use of the Services we offer. As set forth in Paragraph 3 of the Terms of Service, your continued use of the Service after the effective date of these changes will constitute your agreement to the changes.

1. Reporting of Actual or Potential Violations of Child Pornography Laws. We have added language to our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) making clear that the Service cannot be used in any fashion for the transmission or dissemination of images containing child pornography. In addition, in Section 5, Privacy Policy; Legal Compliance, we have added language making clear that (a) we are required by law to report any facts or circumstances reported to us or which we discover from which it appears there may be a violation of the child pornography laws; and (b) that we reserve the right to report any such information, including the identity of users, account information, images and other facts to law enforcement personnel.

2. Billing Start Date for Additional Services. In Section 8.1, Prices and Fees; Billing, we have added language stating that, unless otherwise noted at the time of purchase, billing for the Additional Services set forth on Exhibit B will begin either on your Service Ready Date if you are also ordering new Broadband Service or upon submission of your order if you are ordering only an Additional Service.

3. Refundable Deposits. We have added a new Section 8.8, Refundable Deposits, which permits us, in certain instances, to require a refundable deposit either prior or subsequent to activation of Service.

4. Modifications to AUP. We have added language to our AUP making clear (a) that we may monitor our subscribers’ compliance with our Terms of Service and AUP; and (b) that we have the right, but not the obligation, to pre-screen, refuse, move or remove any content available on the Service including, but not limited to, content that violates the law, our Terms of Service or our AUP.

5. Verizon Premium Technical Support (PTS). We have added a new Section 6 to Exhibit B, Additional Terms, which sets forth the terms and conditions governing our provision, and your use, of the PTS service.

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Broadband already has a definition and it's not bandwidth related, it's related to the modulation technique. Any legal/political definitions are irrelevent. ADSL is broadband, as are cablemodems (why you can share a voice channel on the same line). The difference between Cable and DSL is the architecture of the wiring plant. I avoid cable whenever possible, as a bad architecture, DSL or other Point-to-Point plant architecture is far superior. Baseband is the other technology, a la ethernet, 100baseTX. Obama displays his ignorance there.

It really gets messed up when you toss in the new Spread Spectrum techniques.

That said, only the cable companies will benefit from throtteling. The telcos simply add capacity. Cable plant architecture doesn't let you do that easily. That's why ComCast was one of the first ones to do it.

 

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DanMorin replied on Mon, Jun 16 2008 7:12 AM

 

'Traffic Control' is built-in to the Internet.  The TCP/IP stands for "Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol".  Building a network without traffic control is like building an ATM Cash machine without handling the case of insufficient funds.

There is nothing wrong for an ISP throttling bandwidth.  Most ISPs base their business model on bandwidth.  You can get "Unlimited Internet Access" for only $9.95 per month, however limited at 56 Kbps.  If you want faster access, you have to upgrade your bandwidth package, of course, with an extra fee.

There is a lot of confusion about Net Neutrality.

Notice the following phrase at http://compnetworking.about.com/od/internetaccessproviders/f/net-neutrality.htm contradicts itself:

    "Some service providers may prefer to regulate the flow of traffic through their networks for business reasons, while free economy advocates suggest that traffic controls are unnecessary"

Free economy advocates should not call for regulations.  ISPs have the right to limit bandwidth to their customers.  The debate is not about ISPs blocking websites; it is about ISPs giving higher bandwidth to chosen websites for high-quality video.  Likewise, ISPs may wish sell subscriptions to access to web channels, the same as Cable Television.  The good news is Internet access will be faster, so the 'slower websites' will still be faster than what we have today.

See my other detailed post at http://www.hothardware.com/News/New_Net_Neutrality_Bill_Proposed/

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ice91785 replied on Mon, Jun 16 2008 9:10 AM
You can't possibly be implying that TCP/IP requires network throttling are you? Yes transmission control protocol is what TCP stands for but it has NOTHING to do with the end-total-bandwidth you or I experience but in fact the way that the datagrams are handled from a source/destination standpoint.

I am all for ISP's being HONEST with their consumers -- if they advertised '$40 a month and you can transmit up to 20GB @ 10Mb/s' I wouldn't give a hoot as they are being forthright. However what irritates me is how unlimited high-speed internet isn't that at all! You wouldn't buy a car thinking you can drive anywhere you desire, only to find out they have a remote-kill switch for when you hit 1000 miles in a month....why should we subject ourselves to accepting this from our internet providers?

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DanMorin replied on Mon, Jun 16 2008 9:35 AM

TCP/IP does not require network throttling.  What I am saying is bandwidth is finite, and during peak time, some network packets must be dropped when congestion occurs.  The best way to give a good service to everyone is by throttling bandwidth.  If you want more bandwidth, you have to be ready to pay more.

There will always be dishonest businesses.  The free market is the best to weed out those businesses, because dishonest businesses don't keep their customers.  If another ISP promise the same bandwidth package for the same price, which one will you keep?  The only dishonest businesses that remain in the market are those having a monopoly, and it is impossible to have a monopoly without the help of the government.

Politicians are not honest either, in fact they earn their living exclusively from lies.  Having big businesses sleeping with big government is not the solution for honesty and transparency.  Competition is what drives good businesses into the market and makes bad businesses go bankrupt.  The government is against competition by making laws to protect itself and the big corporations supporting it.  This is why we have regulations, patents and antitrust laws - to keep entrenched corporations in place.

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evil_sam replied on Mon, Jun 16 2008 10:03 AM
Look, Google is behind Net Neutrality because of money.

The ISPs like Comcast and AT&T that are pushing IPTV claim to need throttling and prioritization to ensure reliable service. Maybe they do. Whatever the case, they aren't going to invest in the necessary infrastructure if they can't ensure that people will be watching and PAYING. But, if they get their way and are allowed to prioritize transmission of their own video content over other sources (i.e. YouTube), then Google is left with a $1.65 million dead weight.

Sure, I support throttling if it's necessary. Just let me have a choice in the matter. If I like AT&T's video, I will definitely give it the bandwidth and priority it needs. I like the idea of knowing what's going on with my ISP and my broadband, and I'm all for a neutral Internet and getting to select what I want.

What I hate is when Google pretends to be the savior of all us poor saps who need their help, and in reality they're just another big company looking out for their own interests. They have every right to ensure they have the ability to deliver their content. Hey Google, just say that's what you're doing!
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DanMorin replied on Mon, Jun 16 2008 10:16 AM

Well said evil_sam.  If I could vote for a post, I would give your post 5 stars.

I beleive the Net Neutrality saga is a big PR stunt.

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JLSDev replied on Mon, Jun 16 2008 12:54 PM
"Free Market" and "Cable ISPs" is an oxymoron. The cable companies were granted monopolies - in more areas than not - based on the "we can't afford to build out the infrastructure without it" along with an implicit "we promise to be fair and not argue the 'standard business model' approach since we are being granted preferential treatment over and above what any 'standard business' would receive but EVERYONE will benefit" argument which local governments bought into "lock, stock and barrel". Any "Free Market" based analysis is rendered entirely without merit whenever the term "monopoly" [particularly government-sanctioned] enters into the equation and it is very prominent in this one.

What you mention in a subsequent post "There will always be dishonest businesses" is entirely applicable in the case of ISPs who, once they have completed the majority of their infrastructure and are now firmly entrenched, as many others have tried to do and in too many cases succeeded in doing, they are now "changing the rules" they initially agreed to not to mention attempting to change the definition of "unlimited", which means "NOT limited [as in by ANYTHING]", that they used to "sell this thing" to the public at large, to some "spin-doctored" NEW definition that has little resemblance to what they clearly stated as the original premise.

In addition, Cox as an example, currently advertises: "Cox High Speed Internet is an always-on connection with speed to download in seconds, not minutes... Features include:

* PowerBoost
* Cable modem technology that gives you a boost of speed for video, photos, music and any large file access."

Note the word "any" and the complete absence of any "clever caveats".

They happen to be one of the providers reported to be "throttling" yet their business model differentiates according to bandwidth, already, with three different speeds at three different price points those being 1.5 Mbps, 7 Mbps and 12 Mbps [download].

It's not about "free market", here, it's all about monopoly and honesty and if the "children" refuse to "behave themselves", it's time for the "parents" to step in.
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DanMorin replied on Mon, Jun 16 2008 1:22 PM

I agree that "Free Market" and "Cable ISPs" is an oxymoron.  This is because the Cable ISPs are not free, but tied to government regulations.  More government regulations will just make things worse, like all government interventions.

It's not about "free market", here, it's all about monopoly and honesty

The best way to break a monopoly is to remove entry barriers (regulations).

and if the "children" refuse to "behave themselves", it's time for the "parents" to step in.

This assumes the government is the parent One Big Happy Family and has the answers to everything.  In fact the government is the source of this mess.

If the ISPs refuse to "behave themselves", the free market (customers) will punish them.  Politicians will not puhish the ISPs, but likely to reward them with taxpayer's money.  Corporations want to make money, and you have much more control over your wallet when you subscribe Internet services, than you have control on the money you send to the politicians.  The government takes your money by force (taxes) and by theft (inflation).  The more money the government has, the more power it has, and this is why there is so much corruption.  Since corporations want to maximize their profits, they will use the easiest way.  Behemoth Corporations find it far easier to lobby the government for privileges (regulations) and handouts (subsidies), than to work hard and sell goods and services to customers.  It is time to take control of our lives and stop giving away our power to politicians.

A group of corrupted politicians and bureaucrats (aka Government) should never be referred as "parents".  This analogy is simply wrong.

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JLSDev replied on Mon, Jun 16 2008 3:19 PM
"Cable ISPs are not free, but tied to government regulations"

"Tied to", meaning "having been given", government furnished monopolies [not "regulations"], more like, and, right now, free to do whatever they please with them and TO US. The regulations being proposed are the inevitable result of their [the cable co's] lack of responsibility.

"The best way to break a monopoly is to remove entry barriers (regulations)."

The entry barrier to breaking into the cable provider business is the cost of building the infrastructure which has nothing to do with any regulations of which there are currently none or very, very few.

"you have much more control over your wallet when you subscribe Internet services"

Not when I'm presented with a REAL choice of ONE - unless you're one of those who also likes to lump Dialup and DSL access, which fail to hold a candle to cable access in the connection speed department, in with cable. I find it remarkable that you agree with the statement that "Free Market and Cable ISPs is an oxymoron" said because the monopolies they have been granted is the antithesis of free market and then continue to talk about free market somehow magically coming into play when you have already, in essence, agreed there IS NOT ONE.

I agree that, in free market cases, government regulation is NOT the answer but the various municipalities already "gave away the farm" of the free market in this case by granting monopolies and it's now too late. Had the cable ISPs "behaved themselves" as I mentioned earlier, none of this would be necessary but, given the state of monopoly they have been given coupled with their own actions of trying to seize power over what needs to be a free and open communication media - unlike radio and television which are already totally controlled by a select few big money corporations - they have dug themselves right into this mess. With no free market forces in play we are left with only one remedy, that being a quite simple regulation which essentially states "NO, you are NOT allowed to discriminate against anyone providing or desiring legal content based on that content". IOW, "you are not allowed to give preferential treatment to content provided by you or your 'affiliates' over anyone else's for your own gain or otherwise. You were given a 'special deal' to provide a public service which you agreed to and you are NOT allowed to change the rules to suit your own new ideas of what this means so late in the game. You ISPs were never appointed 'content police' or 'content controllers' or 'Internet censors' and you don't get to appoint yourselves to any of those positions now.". Oh, and BTW, "You DO need to abide by existing laws, like the ones prohibiting false advertisement, as well just like everyone else has to do so no "behind-the-scenes technical monkey business" that falsifies what you openly and clearly advertise under the false pretense of 'network management', either".
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AjayD replied on Tue, Jun 17 2008 5:24 AM

JLSDev:
Not when I'm presented with a REAL choice of ONE - unless you're one of those who also likes to lump Dialup and DSL access, which fail to hold a candle to cable access in the connection speed department, in with cable.

I agree completely. I have recently moved and consequently have been forced to go from my previous 12mb cable connection to a measly 1.5mb DSL connection. I feel as though I have been relegated to speeds remeniscent of 56k dial-up. My only alternative would be a satellite connection, or dial-up, neither of which are remotely close to being high speed. While there are manifold options when it comes to selecting an ISP, the likelihood of being fortunate enough to have a choice between multiple companies who offer truly competitive speeds is rare at best.

As far as the government coming to the rescue on this dilemma is concerned, I wouldn't hold my breath. My faith in our government, which has become a morbidly obese bureaucracy, has evaporated faster than isopropyl alcohol  poured into a scalding frying pan.

The only real competition cable has is fiber optics. However, given the scarcity of fiber optics and their extremely limited residential availability, it can hardly be called competition at this stage. The government should have helped build the infrastructure necessary for widespread fiber optic availability, rather than bending over backwards for cable companies who can't even abide by terms they have already agreed to.

 

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ice91785 replied on Tue, Jun 17 2008 1:27 PM
Well said sir.....very well said

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Dave_HH replied on Mon, Jun 23 2008 8:13 PM
You hit the nail on the head, DanM. Very well said. Plain and simple, you can limit bandwidth on a package/customer level within the guidelines of a published service agreement. This way it's all understood up front and if someone didn't read the fine print, so be it. However, when we talk about limiting BitTorrent or some other site that offers content in any way, then it's nothing more than censorship. Or at least that's the net result of what occurs. If an ISP doesn't have the network intelligence to provide QoS on a link level basis and the general bandwidth limitations that go with that, then they shouldn't be in business. Anything above and beyond that is just utter crapola.

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I'm sure you guys have heard of or have wildblue

sattelite internet right?

well anyway, I've been a customer for going on a

year now and i knew from the start i was gettin

sc#%@!*. I purchased a brand new emachine (don't

laugh) and signed a contract with wildblue for their

silver package $50.00 month (512kb download & 128

upload) and i noticed almost immediately there was

something wrong. The downloads start out around

100kb and quickly drop to around 30. I filed a

complaint with Dishnetwork (the people i recieve

wildblue through) and they sent someone to examine

the prob and he noticed my claim was true. To make a

long story short, several calls and a BBB complaint

later, they accuse my BRAND NEW computer to be the

problem. Since i didn't purchase service directly

from wildblue they (wildblue) wouldn't return my

calls. I know what you're thinking why didn't i just

go with another ISP? THERE IS NO FREAKING OTHER ISP

IN MY AREA! MEANWHILE, i'm stuck with a 18 month

contract. no viruses...no malware...no

spyware...just a really slow connection that i'm

overpaying for.

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DSuarez replied on Tue, Nov 9 2010 7:51 PM

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Excessive-Amounts-of-Bandwith-Usage/168216229875189?v=app_2373072738#!/pages/Excessive-Amounts-of-Bandwith-Usage/168216229875189?v=wall

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realneil replied on Tue, Nov 9 2010 11:27 PM

10 down, 3 up, no limits at all. Just downloaded 32 and 64bit versions of Ubuntu tonight.

Don't part with your illusions. When they are gone you may still exist, but you have ceased to live.

(Mark Twain)

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