AuthorsD. Baltrūnas, A. Elmokashfi and A. Kvalbein
TitleMeasuring the Reliability of Mobile Broadband Networks
AfilliationNetworks, Communication Systems, Communication Systems
Project(s)The Center for Resilient Networks and Applications
Publication TypeProceedings, refereed
Year of Publication2014
Conference NameProceedings of the 14th ACM Internet Measurement Conference (IMC'14)

Mobile broadband networks play an increasingly important role in society, and there is a strong need for independent assessments of their robustness and performance. A promising source of such information is active end-to-end measurements. It is, however, a challenging task to go from individual measurements to an assessment of network reliability, which is a complex notion encompassing many stability and performance related metrics. This paper presents a framework for measuring the user-experienced reliability in mobile broadband networks. We argue that reliability must be assessed at several levels, from the availability of the network connection to the stability of application performance. Based on the proposed framework, we conduct a large-scale measurement study of reliability in 5 mobile broadband networks. The study builds on active measurements from hundreds of measurement nodes over a period of 10 months. The results show that the reliability of mobile broadband networks is lower than one could hope: more than 20% of connections from stationary nodes are unavailable more than 10 minutes per day. There is, however, a significant potential for improving robustness if a device can connect simultaneously to several networks. We find that in most cases, our devices can achieve 99.999% ("five nines") connection availability by combining two operators. We further show how both radio conditions and network configuration play important roles in determining reliability, and how external measurements can reveal weaknesses and incidents that are not always captured by the operators' existing monitoring tools.

Citation Keyimc2014