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This paper investigates the performance of TCP in mobile data networks and proposes a novel approach to address the problem of optimizing transport protocol for these networks - a network-centric approach. We propose to realize protocol optimizations within the network by means of deploying a network-layer device - called a mobile accelerator, which performs protocol optimizations on-the-fly to improve transport protocol performance, without requiring any modification to the server or the client protocol implementations in the OS. Our extensive experiments conducted in production 3G/HSPA and LTE networks show that the proposed mobile accelerator can increase the throughput performance of TCP by over 200%. This mobile accelerator can be readily deployed in existing mobile data networks and can improve the network performance of all existing network applications running atop TCP.