Helping users shop for isps with internet nutrition labels

Georgia Tech Atlanta, USA; Georgia Tech Atlanta, USA; CNRS, UPMC Sorbonne Univ. Paris, France; Georgia Tech Atlanta, USA; Georgia Tech Atlanta, USA; Georgia Tech Atlanta, USA; Georgia Tech Atlanta, USA; University of Napoli Federico II Napoli, Italy; HomeNets'11, 2011, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
01/2011; DOI: 10.1145/2018567.2018571

ABSTRACT When purchasing home broadband access from Internet service providers (ISPs), users must decide which service plans are most appropriate for their needs. Today, ISPs advertise their available service plans using only generic upload and download speeds. Un-fortunately, these metrics do not always accurately reflect the vary-ing performance that home users will experience for a wide range of applications. In this paper, we propose that each ISP service plan carry a "nutrition label" that conveys more comprehensive informa-tion about network metrics along many dimensions, including vari-ous aspects of throughput, latency, loss rate, and jitter. We first jus-tify why these metrics should form the basis of a network nutrition label. Then, we demonstrate that current plans that are superficially similar with respect to advertised download rates may have differ-ent performance according to the label metrics. We close with a discussion of the challenges involved in presenting a nutrition label to users in a way that is both accurate and easy to understand.

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    ABSTRACT: 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.
    Proceedings of the ACM SIGCOMM 2011 Conference on Applications, Technologies, Architectures, and Protocols for Computer Communications, Toronto, ON, Canada, August 15-19, 2011; 01/2011
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    ABSTRACT: With broadband availability now approaching universal service in the United States, the focus on broadband metrics is shifting toward the assessment of broadband performance. The initial focus has been on the measurement and reporting of the speeds achieved by broadband services. As we develop more comprehensive and, hopefully, more meaningful frameworks for characterizing, measuring, and evaluating broadband performance, one obvious measure of merit will be reliability. In a survey, consumers identified concerns about reliability as second only to speed in importance. Moreover, as our collective reliance on broadband as critical socio-economic infrastructure increases, and as a growing range of services move into the Internet, it is reasonable to expect that demand for reliable broadband service will increase. At the same time, the growth of streaming and interactive rich multimedia, the convergence of fixed and mobile services, and the evolution of the Internet services industry pose new challenges for developing appropriate reliability metrics. While the measurement of broadband availability or speeds and the appropriate interpretation of measurement data are not simple tasks, evaluating reliability is inherently much more complex and difficult.

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