Google: We’ll Help You Keep ISPs Honest

June 15, 2008

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.

Telecom Policy Gets Shaped in Boulder

February 11, 2008

It’s been a pretty amazing day of discourse at this year’s Silicon Flatirons conference, hosted at the University of Colorado by Phil Weiser and the rest of the Silicon Flatirons gang. It’s going to take some time to process all the thoughts, opinions and even insider telco humor that reverberated inside the spiffy new CU law building during Sunday’s sessions, but stay tuned because there was as usual some great stuff about topics like network neutrality, why communications should matter more and what industry, politicians and the public at large should do to make broadband better. I am still doing some news posts on the conference for the GigaOM blog, so after I’m done with that I plan to weigh in with some more thoughts here.

As a tease, let me say that it is no small feat to get so many big personalities in the world of telecom, media and communications into one small auditorium — from commissioners from the FTC and FCC, to top execs from companies like Comcast, Google and Verizon to the leading legal and policy thought leaders — and then get them to not just speak, but to challenge each other and respond to the multiple queries from the just-as-wired members of the audience. More soon, after a break for dinner.

Update: More tomorrow, not tonight. Promise!