Selected papers

Crowd-based network measurement and inference

Sundaresan, Srikanth, et al › Broadband internet performance: a view from the gateway
We present the first study of network access link performance measured directly from home gateway devices. Policymakers, ISPs, and users are increasingly interested in studying the performance of Internet access links. Because of many confounding factors in a home network or on end hosts, however, thoroughly understanding access network performance requires deploying measurement infrastructure in users' homes as gateway devices. In conjunction with the Federal Communication Commission's study of broadband Internet access in the United States, we study the throughput and latency of network access links using longitudinal measurements from nearly 4,000 gateway devices across 8 ISPs from a deployment of over 4,200 devices. We study the performance users achieve and how various factors ranging from the user's choice of modem to the ISP's traffic shaping policies can affect performance. Our study yields many important findings about the characteristics of existing access networks. Our findings also provide insights into the ways that access network performance should be measured and presented to users, which can help inform ongoing broader efforts to benchmark the performance of access networks. Read More ›

Sharma, Abhigyan, Arun Venkataramani, and Antonio A. Rocha › Pros & cons of model-based bandwidth control for client-assisted content delivery
A key challenge in client-assisted content delivery is determining how to allocate limited server bandwidth across a large number of files being concurrently served so as to optimize global performance and cost objectives. In this paper, we present a comprehensive experimental evaluation of strategies to control server bandwidth allocation. As part of this effort, we introduce a new model-based control approach that relies on an accurate yet concise “cheat sheet” based on a priori offline measurement to predict swarm performance as a function of the server bandwidth and other swarm parameters. Our evaluation using a prototype system, SwarmServer, instantiating static, dynamic, and model-based controllers shows that static and dynamic controllers can both be suboptimal due to different reasons. In comparison, a model-based approach consistently outperforms both static and dynamic approaches provided it has access to detailed measurements in the regime of interest. Nevertheless, the broad applicability of a model-based approach may be limited in practice because of the overhead of developing and maintaining a comprehensive measurement-based model of swarm performance in each regime of interest. Read More ›

Ha, Sangtae, et al › Tube: time-dependent pricing for mobile data
The two largest U.S. wireless ISPs have recently moved towards usage-based pricing to better manage the growing demand on their networks. Yet usage-based pricing still requires ISPs to over-provision capacity for demand at peak times of the day. Time-dependent pricing (TDP) addresses this problem by considering when a user consumes data, in addition to how much is used. We present the architecture, implementation, and a user trial of an end-to-end TDP system called TUBE. TUBE creates a price-based feedback control loop between an ISP and its end users. On the ISP side, it computes TDP prices so as to balance the cost of congestion during peak periods with that of offering lower prices in less congested periods. On mobile devices, it provides a graphical user interface that allows users to respond to the offered prices either by themselves or using an ;'autopilot' mode. We conducted a pilot TUBE trial with 50 iPhone or iPad 3G data users, who were charged according to our TDP algorithms. Our results show that TDP benefits both operators and customers, flattening the temporal fluctuation of demand while allowing users to save money by choosing the time and volume of their usage. Read More ›

Wang, Lusheng, and G-SGS Kuo › Mathematical modeling for network selection in heterogeneous wireless networks—A tutorial
In heterogeneous wireless networks, an important task for mobile terminals is to select the best network for various communications at any time anywhere, usually called network selection. In recent years, this topic has been widely studied by using various mathematical theories. The employed theory decides the objective of optimization, complexity and performance, so it is a must to understand the potential mathematical theories and choose the appropriate one for obtaining the best result. Therefore, this paper systematically studies the most important mathematical theories used for modeling the network selection problem in the literature. With a carefully designed unified scenario, we compare the schemes of various mathematical theories and discuss the ways to benefit from combining multiple of them together. Furthermore, an integrated scheme using multiple attribute decision making as the core of the selection procedure is proposed. Read More ›

Im, Youngbin, et al › AMUSE: Empowering users for cost-aware offloading with throughput-delay tradeoffs
Mobile users face a tradeoff between cost, throughput, and delay in making their offloading decisions. To navigate this tradeoff, we propose AMUSE (Adaptive bandwidth Management through USer-Empowerment), a practical, costaware WiFi offloading system that takes into account a user's throughput-delay tradeoffs and cellular budget constraint. Based on predicted future usage and WiFi availability, AMUSE decides which applications to offload to what times of the day. To practically enforce the assigned rate of each TCP application, we introduce a receiver-side TCP bandwidth control algorithm that adjusts the rate by controlling the TCP advertisement window from the user side. We implement AMUSE on Windows 7 tablets and evaluate its effectiveness with 3G and WiFi usage data obtained from a trial with 25 mobile users. Our results show that AMUSE improves user utility. Read More ›

Wong, Felix Ming Fai, et al › Mind Your Own Bandwidth: An Edge Solution to Peak-hour Broadband Congestion
Motivated by recent increases in network traffic, we propose a decentralized network edge-based solution to peak-hour broadband congestion that incentivizes users to moderate their bandwidth demands to their actual needs. Our solution is centered on smart home gateways that allocate bandwidth in a two-level hierarchy: first, a gateway purchases guaranteed bandwidth from the Internet Service Provider (ISP) with virtual credits. It then self-limits its bandwidth usage and distributes the bandwidth among its apps and devices according to their relative priorities. To this end, we design a credit allocation and redistribution mechanism for the first level, and implement our gateways on commodity wireless routers for the second level. We demonstrate our system's effectiveness and practicality with theoretical analysis, simulations and experiments on real traffic. Compared to a baseline equal sharing algorithm, our solution significantly improves users' overall satisfaction and yields a fair allocation of bandwidth across users.. Read More ›

Aryafar, Ehsan, et al › RAT selection games in HetNets
We study the dynamics of network selection in heterogeneous wireless networks (HetNets). Users in such networks selfishly select the best radio access technology (RAT) with the objective of maximizing their own throughputs. We propose two general classes of throughput models that capture the basic properties of random access (e.g., Wi-Fi) and scheduled access (e.g., WiMAX, LTE, 3G) networks. Next, we formulate the problem as a non-cooperative game, and study its convergence, efficiency, and practicality. Our results reveal that: (i) Singleclass RAT selection games converge to Nash equilibria, while an improvement path can be repeated infinitely with a mixture of classes. We next introduce a hysteresis mechanism in RAT selection games, and prove that with appropriate hysteresis policies, convergence can still be guaranteed; (ii) We analyze the Pareto-efficiency of the Nash equilibria of these games. We derive the conditions under which Nash equilibria are Paretooptimal, and we quantify the distance of Nash equilibria with respect to the set of Pareto-dominant points when the conditions are not satisfied; (iii) Finally, with extensive measurement-driven simulations we show that RAT selection games converge to Nash equilibria in a small number of steps, and hence are amenable to practical implementation. We also investigate the impact of noisy throughput measurements, and propose solutions to handle them. Read More ›

Ravindranath, Lenin, et al › Procrastinator: Pacing Mobile Apps’ Usage of the Network.
Many popular, professionally-written smartphone apps today prefetch large amounts of network data to improve performance. However, the typical user may not use all of this network data. When a user is on a limited or pay-per-byte cellular data plan, such as when roaming internationally, this prefetching behavior can cost her in overage fees on her cellular bill. This video demonstrates Procrastinator, which is a system that automatically decides when to fetch each network object that an app requests. This decision is made based on whether the user is on Wi-Fi or cellular, how many bytes are remaining on her data plan, and whether the object is needed at the present time. Procrastinator does not require app developer effort, nor app source code, nor OS changes -- it modifies the app binary to trap specific system calls and inject custom code. Our system can achieve as little as no savings to 4X reduction in total bytes transferred by an app, depending on the user and the app. These savings for the data-poor user come with a 300ms median latency penalty on LTE if the user goes to a part of the app where Procrastinator did not allow data to be prefetched. This video shows how main content on the primary page of apps is unaffected, and the delay that the user will typically experience if she goes to secondary pages in apps when she is running out of cellular data plan bytes.. Read More ›

Balakrishnan, Hari, Hariharan S. Rahul, and Srinivasan Seshan › An integrated congestion management architecture for Internet hosts
This paper presents a novel framework for managing network congestion from an end-to-end perspective. Our work is motivated by trends in traffic patterns that threaten the long-term stability of the Internet. These trends include the use of multiple independent concurrent flows by Web applications and the increasing use of transport protocols and applications that do not adapt to congestion. We present an end-system architecture centered around a Congestion Manager (CM) that ensures proper congestion behavior and allows applications to easily adapt to network congestion. Our framework integrates congestion management across all applications and transport protocols. The CM maintains congestion parameters and exposes an API to enable applications to learn about network characteristics, pass information to the CM, and schedule data transmissions. Internally, it uses a window-based control algorithm, a scheduler to regulate transmissions, and a lightweight protocol to elicit feedback from receivers.We describe how TCP and an adaptive real-time streaming audio application can be implemented using the CM. Our simulation results show that an ensemble of concurrent TCP connections can effectively share bandwidth and obtain consistent performance, without adversely affecting other network flows. Our results also show that the CM enables audio applications to adapt to congestion conditions without having to perform congestion control or bandwidth probing on their own. We conclude that the CM provides a useful and pragmatic framework for building adaptive Internet applications. Read More ›

Misra, Vishal, et al › Incentivizing peer-assisted services: a fluid shapley value approach
A new generation of content delivery networks for live streaming, video on demand, and software updates takes advantage of a peer-to-peer architecture to reduce their operating cost. In contrast with previous uncoordinated peer-to-peer schemes, users opt-in to dedicate part of the resources they own to help the content delivery, in exchange for receiving the same service at a reduced price. Such incentive mechanisms are appealing, as they simplify coordination and accounting. However, they also increase a user's expectation that she will receive a fair price for the resources she provides. Addressing this issue carefully is critical in ensuring that all interested parties--including the provider--are willing to participate in such a system, thereby guaranteeing its stability. In this paper, we take a cooperative game theory approach to identify the ideal incentive structure that follows the axioms formulated by Lloyd Shapley. This ensures that each player, be it the provider or a peer, receives an amount proportional to its contribution and bargaining power when entering the game. In general, the drawback of this ideal incentive structure is its computational complexity. However, we prove that as the number of peers receiving the service becomes large, the Shapley value received by each player approaches a fluid limit. This limit follows a simple closed form expression and can be computed in several scenarios of interest: by applying our technique, we show that several peer-assisted services, deployed on both wired and wireless networks, can benefit from important cost and energy savings with a proper incentive structure that follows simple compensation rules. Read More ›

Yang, Jeonghwa, W. Keith Edwards, and David Haslem › Eden: supporting home network management through interactive visual tools
As networking moves into the home, home users are increasingly being faced with complex network management chores. Previous research, however, has demonstrated the difficulty many users have in managing their networks. This difficulty is compounded by the fact that advanced network management tools - such as those developed for the enterprise - are generally too complex for home users, do not support the common tasks they face, and are not a good fit for the technical peculiarities of the home. This paper presents Eden, an interactive, direct manipulation home network management system aimed at end users. Eden supports a range of common tasks, and provides a simple conceptual model that can help users understand key aspects of networking better. The system leverages a novel home network router that acts as a 'dropin' replacement for users' current router. We demonstrate that Eden not only improves the user experience of networking, but also aids users in forming workable conceptual models of how the network works. Read More ›

Ravindranath, Lenin, et al › Video: Procrastinator: pacing mobile apps' usage of the network
There are two emerging trends in the mobile data world. First, mobile data is exploding at a rapid rate with analysts predicting 25-50X growth by the year 2015. The second trend is that users are demanding greater degree of flexibility in selecting their operators at fine timescales. Across Asia, dual-SIM phones have become popular, while Apple is rumored to be designing a Universal SIM that will allow iPhone users to toggle between different operators. This latter trend points towards an impending disruption in wireless service models which could also be the need of the hour from the spectrum shortage perspective. This points towards a new service model where users can choose an operator based on application needs. However, if users make this choice greedily without network assistance, it can exacerbate spectrum scarcity and degrade user experience. In this work, we consider user devices with multiple network interfaces (3G, LTE etc.) that can be simultaneously active and each running multiple applications. We propose the MOTA service model to enable users to associate each interface with the operator of choice at fine time scales. Under the MOTA service model, through concise signalling information, operators provide information about their own network, so that each user can (i) choose a suitable operator for each interface, and (ii) choose an interface for each active application. We make the following contributions in this paper. First, we propose concise network signalling that assists users to make informed choices even under mobility. Second, we develop user-choice algorithms that maximize a suitable notion of user satisfaction while using spectrum resources efficiently. Third, we perform extensive evaluation over actual base station deployment in a city coupled with real signal propagation maps. Our results with two operators show that, MOTA service model provides capacity gain in the range 2.5-4X over the current existing service model. Finally, we argue that our solution is practically implementable by combining appropriate IEEE standards and IETF proposals. Read More ›