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SIGMETRICS 2001 / Performance 2001

Impact of Fairness on Internet Performance

Thomas Bonald
France Telecom R&D

Laurent Massoulie
Microsoft Research

We discuss the relevance of fairness as a design objective for congestion control mechanisms in the Internet. Specifically, we consider a backbone network shared by a dynamic number of short-lived flows, and study the impact of bandwidth sharing on network performance. In particular, we prove that for a broad class of fair bandwidth allocations, the total number of flows in progress remains finite if the load of every link is less than one. We also show that provided the bandwidth allocation is ``sufficiently'' fair, performance is optimal in the sense that the throughput of the flows is mainly determined by their access rate. Neither property is guaranteed with unfair bandwidth allocations, when priority is given to one class of flow with respect to another. This suggests current proposals for a differentiated services Internet may lead to suboptimal utilization of network resources.

[Last updated Fri Mar 23 2001]