Google sets up online broadband testing lab

Google Inc. and two nonprofit partners have launched a web site that lets consumers test their internet connections to reveal possible interference and traffic management by service providers, reports the Associated Press. The site, called Measurement Lab (, also addresses a need among academics who want to gather data on how internet connections work in practice. While the workings of the core internet "highways" are well known and standardized, it’s difficult to find out what happens on the network of an internet service provider, between the "highway" and the customer’s home. Service providers say they increasingly find it necessary to act as traffic cops on this stretch of the web to make sure heavy users don’t slow down their neighbors’ connections. But their traffic-management systems can have unintended consequences, and ISPs have been secretive about their workings for fear that subscribers will circumvent them. The FCC sanctioned Comcast Corp. last year for secretly stifling file-sharing traffic without telling subscribers–and earlier this week Cox Communications, the country’s third-largest cable company, said it will test a system that temporarily slows some data to let more time-sensitive traffic through. Google spokesman Dan Martin said the company’s tools "could help users understand their connections, and would allow researchers to validate and explore what Cox is doing."

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