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Measuring Internet Performance when Broadband is the New PSTN

Measuring Internet Performance when Broadband is the New PSTN

As we consider the transition from the telephony PSTN to broadband as the “new PSTN,” an important aspect of the transition will be the ways in which we measure and assess service performance. This presents a number of important challenges because (a) broadband is inherently more complex (in basic technology, market structure, and the range of services and use/user needs it addresses); (b) there is a desire to rely increasingly on markets instead of direct government control (public utility regulation) to manage the ecosystem (investment, pricing, and service choice – which includes technologies, business models, and market-based regulatory frameworks). For both reasons, the measurement metrics play a more critical and important role. Internet measurements and performance data are relevant for communications policy (identifying market failures, crafting and implementing appropriate remedies, and assessing the efficacy of such remedies), for traffic management (operational control of networks), and as critical “market intel” (efficient markets require information about the quality of the goods and services that are being transacted to operate). In this paper, we address some of the challenges and opportunities posed by the need to develop new platforms for Internet performance measurement.

Specifically, we believe broadband measurement must go beyond simple measurements like speed toward a richer conceptualization of the quality of experience. This will have important implications for the design of metrics and measurement infrastructures since the user’s experience is impacted by both component (link) level and system (end-to-end) level factors that will engage cross-layer, cross-value chain dialog. Another area we believe will be worthy of special focus will be how we address the challenge of assessing and providing reliability for the broadband Internet.

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