Tuning Trombones and Smoothing Speedbumps: Why Internet speeds in Africa are slow and what we can do about it.
Professor Nick Feamster, from Princeton University, USA, will deliver the Department of Computer Science colloquium, with a talk entitled, "Tuning Trombones and smoothing speed-bumps: why Internet speeds in Africa are slow and what we can do about it."
In the first part of talk, I’ll first survey two studies we have performed on Internet traffic in South Africa. The first study is a comparison of fixed and mobile broadband access speeds across the country. The second study explores the reasons for various traffic slowdowns in greater depth. One of the main reasons that speeds to popular services are slow is because connectivity between networks is poor, often requiring Internet traffic to detour “trombone” through Internet exchange points in Europe simply to get between two locations in Africa. In the second part of the talk, I’ll talk about possible ways to mitigate these effects. One way to do so is through the development of local Internet exchange points; I’ll present and demonstrate our ongoing efforts to design next-generation Internet exchange points that take advantage of Software Defined Networking (SDN) to improve control over interconnection and traffic. I’ll describe the new functions that SDN-based Internet exchanges enable, and why those new functions may be particularly helpful for the Internet interconnection ecosystem in developing regions. I’ll conclude with a description of the networking and systems efforts in Computer Science at Princeton and encourage strong and interested undergraduates from UCT to join us for research internships.
Nick Feamster is a professor in the Computer Science Department and the Acting Director of the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University. Before joining the faculty at Princeton, he was a professor in the School of Computer Science at Georgia Tech. He received his Ph.D. in Computer science from MIT in 2005, and his S.B. and M.Eng. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT in 2000 and 2001, respectively. His research focuses on many aspects of computer networking and networked systems, with a focus on network operations, network security, and censorship-resistant communication systems. In December 2008, he received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for his contributions to cybersecurity, notably spam filtering. His honors include the Technology Review 35 "Top Young Innovators Under 35" award, the ACM SIGCOMM Rising Star Award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, the NSF CAREER award, the IBM Faculty Fellowship, the IRTF Applied Networking Research Prize, and award papers at the SIGCOMM Internet Measurement Conference (measuring Web performance bottlenecks), SIGCOMM (network-level behavior of spammers), the NSDI conference (fault detection in router configuration), Usenix Security (circumventing web censorship using Infranet), and Usenix Security (web cookie analysis).