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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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