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This paper presents an empirical study on the performance of mobile High Speed Packet Access (a 3.5G cellular standard usually abbreviated as HSPA) networks in Hong Kong via extensive field tests. Our study, from the viewpoint of end users, covers virtually all possible mobile scenarios in urban areas, including subways, trains, off-shore ferries, and city buses. We have confirmed that mobility has largely negative impacts on the performance of HSPA networks, as fast-changing wireless environment causes serious service deterioration or even interruption. Meanwhile, our field experiment results have shown unexpected new findings and thereby exposed new features of the mobile HSPA networks, which contradict commonly held views. We surprisingly find out that mobility can improve fairness of bandwidth sharing among users and traffic flows. Also, the triggering and final results of handoffs in mobile HSPA networks are unpredictable and often inappropriate, thus calling for fast reacting fallover mechanisms. Moreover, we find that throughput performance does not monotonically decrease with increased mobility level. We have conducted in-depth research to furnish detailed analysis and explanations to what we have observed. We conclude that mobility is a double-edged sword for HSPA networks. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first public report on a large-scale empirical study on the performance of commercial mobile HSPA networks.
Parallel and Distributed Systems, IEEE Transactions on (Volume:23 , Issue: 10 )
Date of Publication: Oct. 2012