A team of computer scientists from Northwestern University has started to utilize Bittorrent as a seismograph for network problems. Users of the popular Vuze / Azureus client can install a small plug-in to take part in the "Network Early Warning System", or short NEWS.

pic of news test

Once installed, the plug-in will start to exchange data with other NEWS users in an attempt to spot any unusual latencies or interruptions. From the NEWS website:

"As a user, you want to be sure that you are getting the service that you're paying for and be notified quickly about network problems, especially those that can lead to compensation for service interruption. For ISPs, this software helps to quickly localize and identify network problems so they can be fixed more rapidly and make users happy. "

The NEWS plug-in has been downloaded some 13,000 times so far, but it obviously works better if more people use it. The team behind NEWS is working on a complementary application that makes it easy to gather reports about network conditions from NEWS participants, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. They plan to offer this application as a free download starting next week in the hope that it will be used by ISPs to respond to network issues more quickly.

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