Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 7.52.34 PMThere are a few great considerations that come to mind when looking for a new Internet Service Provider: of course, it matters how much an internet connection costs, how fast it is, and of course, whether it’s possible to watch HD-quality cat videos day or night.

Google wants to help. The company’s Video Quality Report is a new program that measures the quality of an ISP’s connection to YouTube, and publishes the results for users to see. It’s a lot like Netflix’s monthly ISP survey, but personalized to a user’s region and local ISPs.

The company has started collecting usage data on YouTube users’ connection quality, and is now going to use the information it’s gathered to judge how well an ISP works with the company’s video streaming service.

If users can load a YouTube video in high definition 90 percent of the time, the ISP will be declared “YouTube HD Verified,” and will be able to use that designation in their marketing.

For consumers who often have little to go on other than their ISP’s stated speed for their plans, the report will provide another way of figuring out just how fast an Internet connection will feel, in addition to how fast it’s theoretically supposed to be.

While it seems like an easy way for users to check on how their ISP’s performance stacks up against local competitors, the system is also a well-designed way for YouTube to ensure that ISPs don’t start throttling its service too aggressively, now that they are no longer bound by the FCC’s net neutrality rules.

On the flip side, it also encourages ISPs to boost YouTube’s traffic ahead of traffic from other sites so that they can earn a HD designation, even if other sites’ performance doesn’t match up. Still, the end result in that case is users get faster access to their cat videos. It also means that YouTube can help defray some complaints from users who aren’t reliably seeing high-definition performance, even on connections that should theoretically be speedy enough to handle them.

This could also get very interesting as Google itself becomes more of an Internet Service Provider through its Google Fiber program.

Not everyone has access to a report about their local ISPs just yet, as the company is still working to ramp up its data collection. For more information about how Google arrives at its numbers, check out the company’s information here.

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