MBA-Assisted Research Studies (MARS) cover projects that are distinct from the routine reporting and MBA measurement operations aimed at producing year-on-year reports of network performance. As their name suggests, MARS projects mostly consist of standalone experiments initiated due to requests from research institutions engaged in advancing the “state of the art” in network measurements. In a few cases, this component of the MBA program also incorporates pilot efforts which require particularly close technical coordination across FCC teams.

Examples include:

  1. Making available both the MBA measurements infrastructure and assistance from FCC technical staff for a targeted duration, to facilitate research experiments. Typical projects arise due to academic interest in the MBA measurement infrastructure as a resource that can facilitate the advancement of specific technical areas of network research. Candidate experiments feature technical topics pertinent to both the MBA Collaborative and the FCC.
  2. Collecting and providing (again for limited, pre-specified durations) more detailed data than is available through the routinely run MBA tests.
  3. Providing a concerted technical focus to selected new tests within the MBA suite that involve significant feature modification or innovation.

Before a MARS project can begin, the following steps are required:

  1. The teams involved develop a project proposal describing the experiment or feature amendment proposed, and the associated intended use of the MBA infrastructure, for review within the FCC.
  2. In the cases of projects in categories A and B:
    • The Researcher Code of Conduct developed for this purpose is shared with the research team for signing.
    • A joint assessment as to the technical feasibility of supporting the project on the MBA infrastructure is made by the FCC, and the research team, as a preliminary gating function.
    • The proposed research is presented to the MBA Collaborative as an initial introduction to the project.
    • Any new code involved is beta tested for functionality, stability, and security.
    • Deployment follows if the experiment is proven to run with no adverse impact to the networks underlying the MBA measurement infrastructure.
    • Scheduling of research experiments is based on research time-tables, available MBA resources and existing program commitments.
    • Further detail on the process associated with MARS activity is contained in the associated Researcher Code of Conduct.
    • Relevant data and other information, once available, is linked to this site.
    • The premises and conclusions of such studies are solely those of the research team, (i.e. not necessarily endorsed by the FCC). However, when conducted successfully, besides benefiting the researchers involved, projects in this category are likely to provide valuable insights to the FCC, as well as the MBA Collaborative, through an improved understanding of advanced technical issues in network measurements and architectures.

MARS Projects 2018

1. An Updated Data Consumption Metric:

A ‘data consumption’ or ‘data usage’ metric has been in operation as part of the fixed MBA test suite since the start of the MBA program in 2011.

The measurement device in use in the fixed MBA program (referred to elsewhere in MBA documentation as the ‘Whitebox’) is based on a hardware platform positioned within the home network so as to be able to perform the required measurement functions. Over the years since the program’s inception, both the ongoing evolution in consumer Internet services, and the associated modifications to connection methods and on-premise equipment offered by ISPs to their customer base, have necessitated accompanying changes to the relative positions and functions of the ‘Whitebox’ within MBA panel participants’ home networks.

As a result, the initial version of the data usage metric remained viable on a progressively smaller fraction of the MBA test panel, in which the ‘Whiteboxes’ (in addition to their measurement function) were also configured to provide the operative in-home Wifi Access points. The proportion of whitebox installations where this configuration was instantiated had dwindled considerably since 2011.

In response to recurring requests from multiple quarters, in mid-2018, the data consumption metric was updated so it could operate uniformly across the entire MBA measurement panel regardless of the specifics of Whitebox configuration. The metric was further enhanced so it can distinguish the relative proportions of Internet-related Wi-Fi and wired traffic. The existing capability to measure the volume of test-generated traffic was retained and all constituent measurements within the metric(see data dictionary link below ) were designed to correlate in terms of measurement interval and protocol layer.

The data dictionary for the updated usage metric is available here: 2018 usage data dictionary

A detailed technical description can be found here: Technical Methodology for measuring data usage (Document in progress)

The datasets collected so far (to be accrued per month) from deploying this metric are at the following:

July 2018:
August 2018:
September 2018:

MARS Projects, 2013-2017

Note: some of the projects listed here may have multiple associated publications, others may have none; we attempt to provide a link to at least one published paper or presentation/reference, but the set of references provided on this page does not aim to be exhaustive. When possible we also provide a link to the associated data.

1. Locating Last Mile Performance Bottlenecks

  • Dr. Sri Sundaresan and Professor Nick Feamster, Georgia Institute of Technology/Princeton University
    • 2013:
    • 2016: “Home Network or Access Link? Locating Last-mile Downstream Throughput Bottlenecks”, Drs. Srikanth Sundaresan/Nick Feamster/Renata Teixeira (Georgia Institute of Technology/ICSI Berkeley/Princeton University/INRIA, France)

2. Calibrating geolocation algorithms for use in the Time Series Latency Probe (TSLP) and other projects,
Drs. kc Claffy/Brad Huffaker, Cooperative for Applied Internet Data Analysis(CAIDA), UCSD.

3. Highly Granular Packet Loss Data collection.
This is packet loss data aggregated by the minute instead of the hour as normally done in the Fixed Broadband Measurements. This was undertaken at the request of a team consisting of researchers from MIT CSAIL (Drs. David Clark, Steve Bauer) and CAIDA/UCSD (Drs. kc Claffy, Amogh Dhamdhere)

4. NAT Revelio: Detecting NAT 444 in the ISP
This is a project led by Drs. Amogh Dhamdhere and kc. Claffy at the Cooperative for Applied Internet Data Analysis(CAIDA), University of California, San Diego (UCSD), partnering with Simula Research, Norway and the University of Carlos III, Madrid, Spain. As indicated in the title, it investigates one of the means of stretching now exhausted IPv4 address space in the evolving Internet. These experiments were done in two phases. The publication links are below.