Vuze, TCP RSTs, and Educated Guesswork

Triggered by this report (pdf) from Vuze, and Iljitsch’s ars technica article, my friend Eric Rescorla (ekr) posted on his Educated Guesswork blog this morning some bits regarding how many TCP transactions end in RSTs. I’m glad he did this (he saved me the work), as the variances in the data and the methodology employed have been frustrating me since the Vuze report was published. I’ve heard many ISPs taking issue with the report, and several doing so publicly (e.g., AT&T), and while all the appropriate disclaimers are provided by Vuze, a typical consumer might heavily weigh the results in this report when selecting ISPs, or presupposing which ISPs might employ blunt instrumentation in attempts to throttle P2P traffic.

I commend Vuze for attempting to add some actual empirical data points to the P2P throttling discussion, and for making both summarized raw data (ZIP) and their plug-in openly available. I firmly believe empirical evidence is a fine thing, assuming stated “facts” so represented by that evidence are verifiable, and specifically, the methodology used to collect that evidence is indeed measuring the Right Thing. This is where I take issue with the methodology employed to collect this empirical evidence, as do Eric and Iljitsch, and believe the “first results” in the report are misleading, at best.

Given that the objective of the Vuze plug-in, as stated in the report, was to “add relevant data to the traffic throttling debate, and encourage that decisions be made based on facts“, I trust they’ll be updating both their report and methodology to accommodate any misrepresentations that the data might provide.

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