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App Called ‘Wehe’ Puts Net Neutrality To The Test – Finally Available In The App Store

After initially declining to host the Wehe app on their App Store, Apple have now approved it and it’s available for download. If you think you have trust issues with your internet provider, this little thing created by the researchers from Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts might be able to help you out. Find out if your ISP is throttling speeds or blocking some websites!

The most pervasive feeling about the Federal Communication Commission’s net neutrality repeal is one of hopelessness. If we all need to use the internet, big telecom companies control our access to the internet, and there’s no choice about what company to use, how are we supposed to stop these companies from messing with our connections?

One of the answers is, of course, proving that the companies are doing nefarious things, and now there’s an app for that. It almost didn’t happen as well, because Apple initially blocked the app under the excuse that it had “no direct benefits to the user”.

Already available for Android on the Google Play store for at least a month, the app includes a test suite that can detect signs of speed throttling for the biggest websites out there: YouTube, Amazon, NBCSports, Netflix, Skype, Spotify, and Vimeo.

Apple quickly changed course after news articles were written about the rejection.

App creator David Choffnes is a Northeastern University professor who researches distributed systems and networking. He’s gathering data for a study on Internet providers’ treatment of different kinds of Internet traffic. A summary of the data collected so far is available here.

His research team took steps to minimize the effects other network variables might have on the results. “We use our own servers for our tests, and we run multiple tests to rule out transient performance issues that would lead to false positives,” Choffnes said.

“Our goal is to understand differentiation (e.g., throttling policies) worldwide and how they evolve over time”.

The summary data says 573 users have run 3,355 tests and that 10.7 percent of tests revealed “differentiation.” The results may reflect video policies that carriers have disclosed, such as Verizon throttling smartphone videos to 480p or 720p quality, or T-Mobile’s “Binge On” video optimization.

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