Journal article Open Access

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

Mandalari, Anna Maria; Lutu, Andra; Briscoe, Bob; Bagnulo, Marcelo; Alay, Ozgu

After ECN was first added to IP 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++ will face a similar deployment struggle as did base ECN. For this, we assess the feasibility of ECN++ deployment over mobile as well as fixed networks. In the process, we discover 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. Those interested can access the raw measurement data online.

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