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Impact of Carrier-Grade NAT on Web Browsing

Enrico Bocchi, Ali Safari Khatouni, Stefano Traverso, Alessandro Finamore, Valeria Di Gennaro, Marco Mellia, Maurizio Munafò, Dario Rossi

Impact of Carrier-Grade NAT on Web Browsing

6th International Workshop on TRaffic Analysis and Characterization (TRAC 2015), Dubrovnik, Croatia, 10 May 2015




Public IPv4 addresses are a scarce resource. While IPv6 adoption is lagging, Network Address Translation (NAT) technologies have been deployed over the last years to alleviate IPv4 exiguity and their high rental cost. In particular, Carrier- Grade NAT (CGN) is a well known solution to mask a whole ISP network behind a limited amount of public IP addresses, significantly reducing expenses.

Despite its economical benefits, CGN can introduce connectiv- ity issues which have sprouted a considerable effort in research, development and standardization. However, to the best of our knowledge, little effort has been dedicated to investigate the impact that CGN deployment may have on users’ traffic. This paper fills the gap. We leverage passive measurements from an ISP network deploying CGN and, by means of the Jensen- Shannon divergence, we contrast several performance metrics considering customers being offered public or private addresses. In particular, we gauge the impact of CGN presence on users’ web browsing experience.

Our results testify that CGN is a mature and stable technology as, if properly deployed, it does not harm users’ web browsing experience. Indeed, while our analysis lets emerge expected stochastic differences of certain indexes (e.g., the difference in the path hop count), the measurements related to the quality of users’ browsing are otherwise unperturbed. Interestingly, we also observe that CGN protects customers from unsolicited, often malicious, traffic. 


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