Google Video Quality Report to grade how well ISPs deliver YouTube

If you've ever tried to use YouTube as a practical measure of how fast your Internet connection is, then you might be in for a surprise. Apparently, Google has the same idea and has launched its Video Quality Report service to gauge an Internet Service Provider's performance based on how well they are able to stream videos from YouTube.

It might seem almost strange for Google to offer such a kind of service that would virtually pit ISPs against each other. After all, it can turn into a virtual hall of shame really quick. But Google's motives are more or less benign and want users to have a more understandable criteria for evaluating an ISP's offer, as well as making sure they're getting their money's worth.

Being Google, there is a bit of science and math behind the service. For sure, it isn't going to rely on users' feedback or comments, which will be very subjective. It also won't simply base its results from a single person's Home connection. Instead, it analyzes how fast billions of hours worth of YouTube videos are slurped over a span of 30 days. This is then categorized by service provider and location. It also properly considers the density of users on that network per region and adjusts the scores accordingly.

The result is a grading system, indicated by none other than badges, that Google believes can help users and service providers communicate better with each other. A "YouTube HD Vertified" badge tells users that the ISP in that area is able to load videos in 720p HD most of the time. "Standard definition", on the other hand, is given to those that can load at least 360p 90% of the time. And "lower definition" is reserved for those that cannot guarantee even standard quality or, worse, a stable connection.

The website for Google's Video Quality Report is already up but currently only contains informational material on what Google is trying to accomplish and how. For the moment, Google's first test subject is Canada, since Google considers the ISPs there to be exemplars of quality YouTube streaming. Google is so far keeping mum on when it plans to start rolling out to other regions as well. It will be interesting to see how much its badges will be adopted as a way of measuring quality of service in the future.

SOURCE: Financial Post