February 16, 2009

Announcing GCTIP - New Forums for Internet Transparency, Performance, and ISP Issues

Greetings. I'm pleased to announce the availability of a new venue for discussion, reporting, analysis, information sharing, queries, and consumer assistance regarding Internet performance, transparency, and measurement, plus a wide range of topics associated with consumers and their interactions with Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Called GCTIP Forums, this project -- The Global Coalition for Transparent Internet Performance -- is the outgrowth of a network measurement workshop meeting sponsored by Vint Cerf and Google at their headquarters in June, 2008 for a number of academic network measurement researchers and other related parties. This is the same meeting that formed the genesis of the open platform M-Lab (Measurement Lab) project that was recently announced.

GCTIP was the original name for the mailing list that I maintained for that Google meeting and subsequent discussions (full disclosure: I helped to organize the agenda for the meeting and also attended).

Unless we know what the performance of the Internet for any given users really is -- true bandwidth performance, traffic management, port blocking, server prohibitions, filtering, censorship, Terms of Service concerns, and a wide range of other parameters, it's impossible for anyone who uses Internet services to really know if they're getting what they're paying for, if their data is being handled appropriately in terms of privacy and security, and all manner of other crucial related issues.

While transparency and related concerns do have impacts on "network neutrality" issues, neither GCTIP nor GCTIP Forums are oriented toward network neutrality discussions.

The purpose of GCTIP Forums is to provide a free discussion environment to act as a clearinghouse for all stakeholders (technical, consumers, ISPs, government-related, etc.) to interact on the range of "network transparency" and associated topics. The focus is on collecting, analyzing, and disseminating reports relating to Internet measurement/test data -- plus associated concerns, discussions, etc., in manners that are most useful to the network community at large. There are many groups working in the network measurement area, but surprisingly little data sharing, coordination, or ongoing reporting in a form that is useful to most ordinary Internet consumers or other interested observers.

An area of particular concern is helping to assure that measurement tests and perceived consumer problems with their ISPs aren't misinterpreted by users resulting in unfair or simply wrong accusations against those ISPs. I feel strongly that consumers need a place to go with these sorts of issues where the broader community and experts can help interpret what's really going on. Guilty firms should be exposed, but the innocent must not be inappropriately branded.

All current GCTIP Forums topics can be viewed without signing up on the system. Simple registration is required to post new discussion threads and replies, but no non-administrative topics are currently pre-moderated (any reported materials confirmed to be inappropriate will be deleted promptly).

GCTIP Forums exist to enable the exchange of relevant ideas, queries, data, and other information for anyone concerned about the Internet worldwide.

The Forums are seeded with five top-level discussion topics to get things rolling, but suggestions for additional categories are welcome. New threads (e.g. discussions of particular measurement tools, measurement results, specific ISP issues and concerns, etc.) can be created by registered users, starting right now.

Please note that I am running GCTIP on my own dime at this point. At such a time as any outside support funding becomes available for the project (which would be very much appreciated!) it will be publicly announced of course.

Spread the word! This is your chance to help yourself and everyone else better understand what the Internet is really doing, and by extension, where it is going tomorrow.

Thanks very much.


Posted by Lauren at February 16, 2009 04:09 PM | Permalink
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