Measuring ECN++: Good News for ++, Bad News for ECN over Mobile

Anna Maria Mandalari 1 Andra Lutu 2 Bob Briscoe 2 Marcelo Bagnulo 1 Özgü Alay 2

Abstract-- After Explicit Congestion Notification (ECN) was first added to the Internet Protocol in 2001, it was hit by a succession of deployment problems. Studies in recent years have concluded that path traversal of ECN has become close to universal. In this article, we test whether the performance enhancement called ECN++ would face a similar deployment struggle to base ECN. For this, we assess the feasibility of ECN++ deployment over mobile as well as fixed networks. In the process, we discovered bad news for the base ECN protocol: contrary to accepted beliefs, more than half the mobile carriers we tested wipe the ECN field at the first upstream hop. All packets still get through and congestion control still functions, just without the benefits of ECN. This throws into question whether previous studies used representative vantage points. This article also reports the good news that, wherever ECN gets through, we found no deployment problems for the '++' enhancement to ECN. The article includes the results of other in-depth tests that check whether servers that claim to support ECN actually respond correctly to explicit congestion feedback.

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  1. The paper has been presented at the IETF 100 in Singapore in the TCP Maintenance and Minor Extensions (tcpm) working group.


A. M. Mandalari, A. Lutu, B. Briscoe, M. Bagnulo and O. Alay, "Measuring ECN++: Good News for ++, Bad News for ECN over Mobile," to appear in IEEE Communications Magazine, March 2018.