The Internet was designed to be neutral with respect to kinds of applications, senders and destinations. Such design choice made very fast packet switching possible, while preserving, at the same time, strong openness towards unforeseen uses of the Internet Protocol. The result has been an extraordinary outburst of innovation, as well as a level-playing field for citizens, associations and companies worldwide. With the advent of “deep packet inspection” technology, however, fine-grained discrimination of Internet flows is now possible, be that for economical or other reasons. Collecting quantitative data on the behavior of telecommunications providers with respect to traffic discrimination thus becomes crucial, particularly at a time when policy changes are widely discussed.
The “Network Neutrality Bot” (Neubot) project is based on a lightweight, open source computer program, the Neubot, that, downloaded and installed by Internet users, performs distributed measurements of the traffic characteristics of segments of the global Internet. The collected data will allow constant monitoring of the actual state of the Internet, enabling both a deeper understanding of such crucial infrastructure and a more reliable basis for discussing network neutrality policies.
The paper is available in pdf format.