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Friday, September 8 • 9:00am - 9:33am
You Get What You Measure: Internet Performance Measurement as a Policy Tool

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The research literature on Internet performance measurement is quite rich. Surveys of measurement tools such as “A Study of Traffic Management Detection Methods & Tools”[1] and “A Survey on Internet Performance Measurement Platforms and Related Standardization Efforts”[2] describe a multitude of tools such as NetPolice, NANO. DiffProbe, Glasnost, ShaperProbe, Chkdiff, Sam Knows, BISmark, Dasu, Netradar, Portolan, RIPE Atlas, and perfSONAR.

In addition to tools developed for academic research and policy enforcement, internet users rely on Speedtest and OpenSignal for troubleshooting. Finally, proprietary systems such as those developed by Akamai,[3] Sandvine,[4] and Cisco[5] are used to compile “State of the Internet” analyses aggregating several views of the Internet.

While current tools are quite useful for measuring the performance of Internet Service Provider networks, they’re much less useful for examining how well the Internet operates as a whole. The Internet is an “end-to-end network of networks” in which performance depends on an entire series of cooperating networks.

From the user perspective, it’s important to know whether websites are slow to load because of ISP network impairment, server overload or code bloat, or factors under the user’s direct control such as Wi-Fi issues or personal computer factors. In addition, users run multiple applications such as video streaming and conferencing that are subject to different performance goals than web browsing.

The emphasis on one facet of Internet performance, such as last mile networks or hot exchange point interfaces, tends to minimize other factors that may be more important to the user, such as web server capacity. In addition, a reliance on active measurement tools creates opportunities for gaming the system that are not possible in passive systems that merely observe application and network events in real time. Passive systems have privacy issues, however.

This paper explores the opportunities for developing additional performance tools more responsive to the broader social goal of better end-to-end Internet performance and reliability across the broad span of applications. It assumes that policy can only be successful when supported by measurement tools that are trustworthy, reproducible, and meaningful.


Patrick Sun

Industry Economist, FCC

avatar for Richard Bennett

Richard Bennett

High Tech Forum

Friday September 8, 2017 9:00am - 9:33am EDT
ASLS Hazel Hall - Room 329