Towards a Holistic Net Neutrality Violation Detection System: A Case Study of Slovenia

Abstract

Democratic principles, from the freedom of speech, to fair business practices, rely on Net neutrality, i.e. equal access to communication infrastructure and services. While a number of national and international regulations stipulate Net neutrality, the actual enforcement is challenging as regulators have to collect and analyze a large amount of network measurements, and pinpoint cases of neutrality violations. Through a large-scale distributed crowdsourced measurements campaign, the Agency for Communication Networks and Services of the Republic of Slovenia (AKOS) has acquired a massive dataset of Internet performance measurements in Slovenia. In this work we analyze about one million multi-dimensional data records gathered by the AKOS Test Net measurement system and identify the practices, such as port blocking, that might violate Net neutrality principles. We then chart the limitations of the employed measurement approach and propose a holistic multi-stakeholder approach ensuring high quality measurement data upon which reliable Net neutrality violation inferences should be based.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    https://breitbandmessung.de/.

  2. 2.

    Garrett et al. provide a comprehensive summary of issues in their recent survey of traffic differentiation detection [16].

  3. 3.

    https://www.akostest.net/en.

  4. 4.

    Each measurement session always includes speed test results. Other measurement types may or may not be executed depending on the application type (e.g. only the Android-based application supports TCP/UDP port availability test), client’s permission (e.g. NDT tests need to be explicitly enabled), and sensor availability (e.g. GPS coordinates available or not).

  5. 5.

    https://github.com/vpejovic/netnevt.

  6. 6.

    https://github.com/ivek1312/ricercando.

  7. 7.

    While technically differentiation between users of two different ISPs does not necessarily amount to Net neutrality violation, we begin our analysis with this problem as it represents the easiest case—failing to detect differentiation at the ISP level indicates that differentiation on deeper levels of the hierarchy is unlikely to be detected either.

  8. 8.

    https://www.measurementlab.net/tests/ndt/.

  9. 9.

    https://breitbandmessung.de/.

  10. 10.

    https://respectmynet.eu/.

  11. 11.

    An example of drive test software is Rohde & Schwartz ROMES4 https://www.livingston-products.com/products/pdf/156521_1_en.pdf.

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Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank Ivan Majhen and Miha Janež for their help with the data analysis, Janez Sterle for discussions about AKOS Test Net system and result interpretation, Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez for discussions about Net neutrality violation detection, and Urban Kunc for his help with the interaction with the measurement system. The work was partly funded by the Agency for Communication Networks and Services of the Republic of Slovenia (AKOS) and by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme underGrant Agreement No. 644399 (MONROE) through the open call project RICERCANDO. The views expressed are solely those of the author.

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Pejović, V. Towards a Holistic Net Neutrality Violation Detection System: A Case Study of Slovenia. J Netw Syst Manage 28, 1453–1481 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10922-020-09546-9

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Keywords

  • Net neutrality
  • Mobile broadband networks
  • Network measurements
  • Data mining