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Handheld vs. Non-Handheld Traffic: Implications for Campus WiFi Networks

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Gember, Aaron; Anand, Ashok; Akella, Aditya
University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Computer Sciences
Smartphones, portable music players, and other handheld devices have become a major computing platform. Wherever users go, they utilize 3G and WiFi connectivity to access a wide array of Internet services. The small, mobile nature of these devices results in a unique mix of application and network usage. As more handheld devices connect to campus, enterprise, and community WiFi networks, administrators need to adjust their network's configuration to cope with the unique traffic characteristics of handhelds. Other studies have used WiFi and 3G wireless traces to analyze session, mobility, and performance characteristics for handheld devices. We complement these studies by examining how the content and flow characteristics of handheld traffic elicit network management changes. We analyze packet traces from the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus and computer science wireless networks, with 3 days of traffic for over 32,000 unique devices. Trends for handheld devices include a lower usage of UDP, a high volume of HTTP traffic, and a greater proportion of video traffic. We summarize key implications for network management and suggest configuration changes to maintain suitable network performance as handheld devices become the primary users of wireless networks.
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