Carriers, privacy advocates should work closely on new mobile protocols: Report

Everybody loves video on mobile devices — users love it because it’s entertaining and informative, carrier executives love it because it’s lucrative and network administrators … OK, not everyone loves video. Sometimes admins feel there won’t ever be enough bandwidth to prevent wireless networks from slowing down.

The industry trade group 5G Americas expects that  70 per cent of mobile traffic will be video.

At the same time, however, as privacy concerns rise an increasing number of users want their communications encrypted, which could have a significant impact on network speeds.

This week 5G Americans released a technical whitepaper that goes into the conflict between network optimization and privacy.

There are new protocols for optimizing traffic including HTTP/2 and QUIC, that attempt to enhance the user experience by overcoming the inherent issues with the TCP stack, the report notes. However, they create network management challenges for mobile operators that can degrade the user experience. In addition there are other protocols evolving including UDP (user datagram protocol), an alternative to TCP. Meanwhile there is an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) working group on QUIC.

“The important aspect highlighted in this white paper is the need for is fostering a cooperative/collaborative relationship between Internet providers and mobile network operators,” says the document. “This co-operation should enable the development of optimized protocols for mobile video that respect user privacy without compromising network management.

“Traditionally a majority of the traffic has been TCP based. The Internet transport research community is looking to increase the use of UDP with novel protocols such as QUIC to deliver video traffic. While UDP is ubiquitous and critical to the proper functioning of the Internet, it is also the primary tool used by hackers to flood networks with illegitimate traffic during a denial of service (DoS) attack. UDP also undermines mobile wireless operators’ ability to easily identify and block service-disrupting attacks.”

The paper also looks into distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks using  mobile networks that leverage legacy protocols, and urges ISPs to block spoofed packets sourcing from their network. In addition enterprise network admins  must patch servers running vulnerable protocols or configure them in a way to limit the impact each server can have. However, the paper admits that a large number of embedded devices on public networks, like IoT devices can’t be remediated.

The bottom line is the document urges Internet providers/players, privacy advocates and mobile network operators to work together on new protocols.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@]

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