SECON 2014
Conference paper

On the estimation of available bandwidth in broadband cellular networks

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Over-the-top estimation of available bandwidth (AB) in a network path has been well studied for wired networks. The AB of a path denotes its slack capacity, i.e., the bandwidth available for use in the path without impacting the existing traffic. This estimation problem has been receiving attention only recently in cellular networks, which are increasingly becoming one of the main modes of access for a large number of applications. In this paper, we discuss the challenges posed by the problem, and why existing techniques developed for wired networks cannot be applied. We show that, interestingly, it may not even be feasible to estimate AB using over-the-top approaches under certain conditions, even when the wireless channel and traffic conditions are non-varying. We then present a novel AB estimation technique for cellular networks, which typically use proportional fair scheduling at base stations. When the wireless channel and traffic conditions are non-varying, our technique can accurately determine AB when it exceeds the 'fair share' due to a new flow. We also extend the basic technique for estimation under conditions that are time-varying. The proposed methods can as well be used when one or more bottleneck links in a network path are fair-scheduled using algorithms such as weighted-fair queueing. We evaluate our methods using simulations and over operational networks, and present the results. In simulations, our technique is capable of detecting AB close to 90% of the time under feasible conditions even with bursty traffic.