Not all ISPs are built alike, a fact that's been proven time and time again ever since the broadband era began. But today, that matters more than ever. We're streaming video, music, and in some cases, even games. We need reliable Internet, and we need an ISP that's willing to deliver that.
Finding a good ISP isn't too difficult nowadays, what with the vast amount of information online, and not to mention services like Speedtest.net. But, another source of information can never hurt, right? Especially when that source is Google, which sends mind-boggling amounts of bandwidth to millions of people every single day.
The service responsible for the biggest chunk of Google's bandwidth output is YouTube, so it makes sense, then, that it's used for the basis of telling you which ISP is "best".
At the moment, Google's "Video Quality Report" is available to Canadians only, but it's expected to expand very soon. Once the page is visited, Google will establish your location and ISP, and then display a performance report. Unlike Speedtest.net, no actual testing it done on your behalf. Instead, all of these results are simply gathered by Google as time passes and is stored for display when you visit.
Google has rated the ISP I'm using quite well, with 60~70% of customers able to watch HD content at any point in the day - for a DSL service that's quite impressive. In case someone wishes to upgrade their service, though, the "Compare providers in your area" can be selected, at which point a drop-down will display "YouTube HD Verified" providers, and also show which ISPs rank the lowest (eg: has a low % for HD content).
In my particular case, both fiber providers in town rank the highest, which isn't too much of a surprise. On one in particular, HD content can be viewed by an average of 95% people at any point in the day.
For those shopping for a new ISP, Google's new service could prove invaluable. While YouTube is the focus here, the information would prove beneficial to those looking for the best Netflix performance as well, or any other streaming service in general. Now all we need is for the service to become available worldwide.