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Recent research on overlay networks has revealed that user-perceived network performance could be improved by an overlay routing mechanism. The effectiveness of overlay routing is mainly a result of the policy mismatch between the overlay routing and the underlay IP routing operated by ISPs. However, this policy mismatch causes a "free-riding" traffic problem, which may become harmful to the cost structure of Internet service providers. In the present paper, we define the free-riding problem in the overlay routing and evaluate the degree of free-riding traffic to reveal the effect of the problem on ISPs. We introduce a numerical metric to evaluate the degree of the free-riding problem and confirm that most multihop overlay paths that have better performance than the direct path brings the free-riding problem. We also discuss the guidelines for selecting paths that are more effective than the direct path and that mitigate the free-riding problem.
Date of Conference: 20-25 April 2009