Coverage is Not Binary: Quantifying Mobile Broadband Quality in Urban, Rural, and Tribal Contexts

Vivek Adarsh, Michael Nekrasov, Udit Paul, Tarun Mangla, Arpit Gupta, Morgan Vigil-Hayes, Ellen Zegura, Elizabeth Belding

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Cellular network performance does not cleanly generalize. A variety of factors, such as location, terrain, signal quality and network load, affect the performance of services delivered over LTE networks. As a result, the presence of LTE coverage does not always equate to usable service; coverage can be of poor quality, or it can be congested and difficult to access. Given that reliance on LTE networks for Internet connectivity has exploded, it is critical to understand the quality of experience for applications delivered over these networks in a variety of scenarios. To this end, we develop a robust measurement suite that we use to conduct a unique measurement campaign in tribal, rural, congested urban and uncongested urban regions, representing a variety of under-provisioned, congested, and well-provisioned operational LTE networks run by four major providers. Our analysis confirms that the performance of LTE networks in tribal and rural areas is typically worse than even heavily congested urban networks. More specifically, in the regions that we study, LTE networks in under-provisioned (tribal/rural) areas have 9\times poorer video streaming quality, 10\times higher video start-up delay, undergo more than 10\times the number of resolution switches, and lead to more than 2\times slower Web browsing experience as compared to urban deployments. We show that throughput and latency are 11\times and 3\times worse in tribal and rural locations, despite identical LTE carrier subscription plans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication30th International Conference on Computer Communications and Networks, ICCCN 2021
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9780738113302
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes
Event30th International Conference on Computer Communications and Networks, ICCCN 2021 - Virtual, Athens, Greece
Duration: Jul 19 2021Jul 22 2021

Publication series

NameProceedings - International Conference on Computer Communications and Networks, ICCCN
Volume2021-July
ISSN (Print)1095-2055

Conference

Conference30th International Conference on Computer Communications and Networks, ICCCN 2021
Country/TerritoryGreece
CityVirtual, Athens
Period7/19/217/22/21

Keywords

  • Congestion
  • LTE
  • QoE
  • QoS
  • Rural
  • Video streaming
  • Web browsing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Software

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