Google: We’ll Help You Keep ISPs Honest

Was it really two years ago that I asked why couldn’t Google build a Desktop Bandwidth detector? In a post from my old blog on the Pulvermedia network, I wrote:

One idea I kicked around a bit at this past weekend’s Vloggercon (in no small agreement with fellow blogger Matt Sherman, who is about 179 degrees away from me on most net neutrality matters) was the idea of Google (or Microsoft, anyone with buckets of folding money and a desire to get into online apps) buying or building an online application that would show anyone who wants to use it exactly what’s happening to their packets as they course to and fro.

Sure, that’s a simplistic view but it’s the consumer version of what all the self-proclaimed net wizards are talking about when they tell you how to “ping” a server. Why not use some of that Google cash, some of the otherwise wasted programming talent chasing Web 2.0 dreams (how many social network/hookup/map mashups do we need, anyway?) and build something we’d all like to see — a desktop dashboard that could flash red when an ISP tries to block or degrade service, or starts narrowing the pipe for Skype?

And now, apparently, that’s just what Google plans to do, according to their top policy exec Rick Whitt, in a report from Hot Hardware:

“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.

Maybe I should have trademarked the idea? :-) From my old post:

I’ve seen all the flashy demos from the equipment providers who are mining enterprise dollars in this territory, so I know it’s possible. Maybe not easy, but one little app — call it the Google Desktop Bandwidth Detector ™ — could go a long way to keeping Big Ed and his pipes honest and open.

Stay tuned for our upcoming Sidecut Report on Network Neutrality, featuring in-depth interviews with Google’s Whitt and a host of other execs on the policy and technology front lines. In the meantime, you can order our WiMax report on the state of WiMax deployment in the U.S., with the first analysis of the “new” Clearwire deal.

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