Helping Users Shop for ISPs with Internet Nutrition Labels

TitleHelping Users Shop for ISPs with Internet Nutrition Labels
Publication TypeConference Papers
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsSundaresan S, Feamster N, Teixeira R, Tang A, W. Edwards K, Grinter RE, Chetty M, de Donato W
Conference NameACM SIGCOMM Workshop on Home Networks '11
Date Published2011///
ISBN Number978-1-4503-0798-7
Keywordsaccess networks, benchmarking, bismark, broadband networks, gateway measurements

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. Unfortunately, these metrics do not always accurately reflect the varying 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 information about network metrics along many dimensions, including various aspects of throughput, latency, loss rate, and jitter. We first justify 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 different 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.