Test if Your ISP is Throttling BitTorrent

Potential throttling of BitTorrent traffic by major ISPs, such as Comcast and AT&T, means that your Internet access could be affected. It's not just the downloading of illegal movies and applications that utilizes BitTorrent traffic; there is plenty of legitimate BitTorrent traffic out there as well, such as Valve's Steam game distribution platform. Some legitimate Steam users have reported interference from ISPs.

While the government investigates and contemplates enacting net neutrally legislation, what is a broadband user to do? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems have created a couple of tools for detecting if an ISP is manipulating BitTorrent traffic. They call their project: "Glasnost: Bringing Transparency to the Internet."

"ISPs are increasingly deploying a variety of middleboxes (e.g., firewalls, traffic shapers, censors, and redirectors) to monitor and to manipulate the performance of user applications. Most ISPs do not reveal the details of their network deployments to their customers. We believe that this knowledge is important to help users make a more informed choice of their ISP. Further, such knowledge is also useful for researchers designing protocols and systems that run on top of these networks."

The Glasnost page currently hosts two tools: One tests to see if your ISP blocks or limits BitTorrent traffic; and the second tool measures characteristics of your broadband connections, such as router queueing delays. The researchers promise more relevant tools in the near future. At the time of this news post, the BitTorrent traffic manipulation test tool was consistently providing the message, "We are sorry. Our measurement servers are currently busy. Please try again later." Therefore we were unable to test its effectiveness.

UPDATE: Several users have reported that links on the Glasnost pages result in popup windows with inappropriate content. Visit these pages at your own risk, and at the very least make sure a popup blocker is active.