Is there a case for mobile phone content pre-staging?
Alessandro Finamore, Marco Mellia, Zafar Gilani, Konstantina Papagiannaki, Vijay Erramilli, Yan Grunenberger
Proceedings of the ninth ACM Conference on Emerging Networking Experiments and Technologies (CoNEXT), September 2013
Content caching is a fundamental building block of the Inter- net. Caches are widely deployed at network edges to improve performance for end-users, and to reduce load on web servers and the backbone network. Considering mobile 3G/4G net- works, however, the bottleneck is at the access link, where bandwidth is shared among all mobile terminals. As such, per-user capacity cannot grow to cope with the traffic demand. Unfortunately, caching policies would not reduce the load on the wireless link which would have to carry multiple copies of the same object that is being downloaded by multiple mobile terminals sharing the same access link.
In this paper we investigate if it is worth to push the caching paradigm even farther. We hypothesize a system in which mobile terminals implement a local cache, where popular content can be pushed/pre-staged. This exploits the peculiar broadcast capability of the wireless channels to replicate content “for free” on all terminals, saving the cost of transmitting multiple copies of those popular objects. Relying on a large data set collected from a European mobile carrier, we analyse the content popularity characteristics of mobile traffic, and quantify the benefit that the push-to- mobile system would produce. We found that content pre-staging, by proactively and periodically broadcasting “bundles” of popular objects to devices, allows to both greatly i) improve users’ performance and ii) reduce up to 20% (40%) the downloaded volume (number of requests) in optimistic scenarios with a bundle of 100 MB. However, some technical constraints and content characteristics could question the actual gain such system would reach in practice.