Comparison of User Traffic Characteristics on Mobile-Access versus Fixed-Access Networks
We compare Web traffic characteristics of mobile- versus fixed-access end-hosts, where herein the term "mobile" refers to access via cell towers, using for example the 3G/UMTS standard, and the term "fixed" includes Wi-Fi access. It is well-known that connection speeds are in general slower over mobile-access networks, and also that often there is higher packet loss. We were curious whether this leads mobile-access users to have smaller connections. We examined the distribution of the number of bytes-per-connection, and packet loss from a sampling of logs from servers of Akamai Technologies. We obtained 149 million connections, across 57 countries. The mean bytes-per-connection was typically larger for fixed-access: for two-thirds of the countries, it was at least one-third larger. Regarding distributions, we found that the difference between the bytes-per-connection for mobile- versus fixed-access, as well as the packet loss, was statistically significant for each of the countries; however the visual difference in plots is typically small. For some countries, mobile-access had the larger connections. As expected, mobile-access often had higher loss than fixed-access, but the reverse pertained for some countries. Typically packet loss increased during the busy period of the day, when mobile-access had a larger increase. Comparing our results from 2010 to those from 2009 of the same time period, we found that connections have become a bit smaller.